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Castro to travel to United States for U.N. summit

Castro
Castro  

HAVANA (CNN) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro said Friday he intends to attend next week's United Nations Millennium Summit of world leaders in New York.

"This morning, we communicated to the U.S. government that the delegation would be presided by Comrade Fidel," a Cuban Foreign Ministry communique said on Friday.

The Cuban leader said in the communique that visas have been requested from the United States for Castro, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez and Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon.

  MESSAGE BOARD
  • U.S./Cuba relations
  •  

    "Now everything depends on the attitude taken by the U.S. government. Let's see if the Alarcon situation is repeated or not," the communique said, referring to Washington's refusal to grant a visa to Alarcon for this week's meeting of world legislative representatives.

    Castro was last in the United States in October 1995 for the U.N.'s 50th anniversary gathering. Since the 1959 revolution that put him in power on the Caribbean island nation, Castro has been to the United States four times.

    His last trip out of Cuba was in mid-1999, when he traveled to a summit in Brazil.

    Castro's proposed visit comes amid unprecedented initiatives in the U.S. Congress to ease the 38-year-old economic embargo on Cuba. It also coincides with a heightening war-of-words over the thorny issue of continuing immigration from Cuba across the dangerous Florida Straits.

    The trip is sure to become a focus of protests from his foes among hardline, anti-communist groups in Florida's large Cuban-American community, still smarting from the return of Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez in June at the end of a bitter seven-month custody dispute.

    CNN's Larry Register and Reuters contributed to this report.



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    RELATED SITES:
    United Nations
      • Millennium Summit
    Cubaweb
    Close Up Foundation: U.S. Policy Toward Cuba
    Department of State: The U. S. and Cuba

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