Tags: U.S. | Disputes | Carter's | Pro-Castro | Claims

U.S. Disputes Carter's Pro-Castro Claims

Tuesday, 14 May 2002 12:00 AM

"My message, first of all," President Bush said, "it doesn't complicate my foreign policy, because I haven't changed my foreign policy, is that Fidel Castro is a dictator, and he is repressive, and he ought to have free elections, and he ought to have a free press, and he ought to free his prisoners, and he ought to encourage free enterprise.

"And my message to Fidel, my message to the, to the Cuban people is 'Demand freedom, and you've got a president who stands with you.'"

The president's remarks, which he said he intends to expand upon next week, follow the White House's earlier assertion that Cuba is pursuing biological weapons research and is sharing its dual-use biotechnology, despite

"The U.S. has plenty of reason to be concerned," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "No one in the government said 'hard evidence.' We have concerns.

"He is visiting as a private citizen to talk about human rights, not U.S. policy on bioweaponry."

Carter, in response to a question in Havana on Monday, said U.S. officials had told him there was no evidence that "Cuba has been involved in sharing any information to any other country on earth that could be used for terrorist purposes."

Earlier this month, however, Under Secretary of State John Bolton made headlines when he indicated Cuba was sharing information with rogue states.

"Here is what we now know: The United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort," Bolton said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank. "Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support BW programs in those states."

Fleischer said the same point was made in March to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing held by Paul Ford, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research.

Fleischer said Carter on May 9 had discussed his trip to Cuba with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and at no time did the subject of Cuba's biological weapons research program or sharing of dual-use technology come up in conversation.

"I don't speak for all agencies of the government," he said when asked if Carter might have been told something different by other government departments. "I can only describe to you what I know is the official U.S. position."

In his speech, Bolton said Havana "has long provided safe haven for terrorists .... We know that Cuba is collaborating with other state sponsors of terror.

"Castro has repeatedly denounced the U.S. war on terrorism. He continues to view terror as a legitimate tactic to further revolutionary objectives," he said.

Last year, he said, Castro visited Iran, Syria, and Libya, which together with Cuba, are designated by the United States as nations that support terrorists.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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My message, first of all, President Bush said, it doesn't complicate my foreign policy, because I haven't changed my foreign policy, is that Fidel Castro is a dictator, and he is repressive, and he ought to have free elections, and he ought to have a free press, and he...
U.S.,Disputes,Carter's,Pro-Castro,Claims
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2002-00-14
Tuesday, 14 May 2002 12:00 AM
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