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Cuban Parliament Leader Awaits OK

September 8, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ The president of Cuba’s parliament says he is still waiting for approval from the United States needed so he can travel from New York to Washington to visit with black members of Congress.

Ricardo Alarcon, a former longtime ambassador to the United Nations who presides over the communist country’s unicameral National Assembly, said in a far-ranging interview with The Associated Press that he was unsure late Thursday if the approval would come. He hoped to travel to Washington on Monday for the anniversary of the Black Caucus following the U.N. Millennium Summit, which was wrapping up Friday.

Because Cuba has no diplomatic relations with the United States, Cuban officials visiting the United Nations on U.N. business must gain special approval from Washington to travel more than 25 miles from the center of New York.

Alarcon remains irritated that Washington refused to give him a visa to travel to New York before the current summit of world leaders. He had wanted to attend an earlier meeting of parliamentary leaders from more than 140 countries.

Alarcon’s visa was rejected under the provisions of a 1985 presidential proclamation that bars entry to the United States if the visit is considered contrary to U.S. interests, according to U.S. officials. He was later allowed to travel to New York for the summit, however, because it was considered U.N. business.

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