WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States put into effect previously announced procedures to permit increased humanitarian aid to the Cuban people through direct flights and other means.

The announcement Wednesday means that, effective immediately, direct flights are permitted for the first time since President Clinton suspended them in February 1996. Flights are permitted only from Miami.

The measures, announced on March 20, also allow people in the United States to send up to $1,200 a year to family members in Cuba. Such remittances were banned in 1994.

In addition, the administration promised to simplify and expedite the licensing of sales of medicine to Cuba and of donations of medicine and medical supplies to the island.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C., was expected to announce on Thursday his own proposals for expanding humanitarian aid to Cuba.

Helms has complained that Clinton's announcement interfered with his efforts to build a bipartisan consensus in support of legislation to meet the humanitarian needs of the Cuban people.