HAVANA (AP) _ Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina, long considered a possible successor to President Fidel Castro, has been replaced by Castro's 34-year-old chief of staff, Felipe Perez Roque, the government announced today.

It was not immediately clear what the move meant, and it was not immediately announced what new role Robaina would assume.

A brief story on the front page of the Communist Party daily Granma said that Robaina ``who made the greatest efforts to complete his job during the time he was in charge, is freed from his position until a new function is assigned to him.''

The note said that Castro proposed Perez Roque for the job and that it was approved by the Council of State, comprised of the country's most powerful and trusted government officials, as well as by the top leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Appointed foreign minister in 1993, Robaina has overseen the communist country's foreign policy during years of extreme economic hardship following the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

Through his almost constant travels around the world, Robaina has been credited with helping Cuba expand and strengthen its ties with many nations following the lose of its communist allies.

Felipe Perez Roque is a deputy with the National Assembly, Cuba's unicameral legislature, and a member of the Council of State. He also belongs to the party's Central Committee, the party's directorate.

Robaina was just 37 and head of the party's Union of Communist Youth when he was appointed to the post. He had no foreign experience.

The announcement does not necessarily mean that Robaina is being moved aside. Robaina's predecessor, Ricardo Alarcon, went on to become president of the National Assembly and continues to play an important role in both domestic and foreign policy, especially with the United States.