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Castro Seeks Talks With U.S. to Join ‘Common Battle’ on Drug Smuggling

From Times Wire Services

Cuban President Fidel Castro has asked for talks with the United States to help combat drug smuggling, but the State Department said Wednesday it is too early to assess the overture.

In a speech broadcast Tuesday on Cuban television, Castro said: “We have to arrange a form of communication between the United States and Cuba in this common battle. The United States knows that they (the drug smugglers) simply laugh when ordered to land. We really have to discuss how to manage such things.”

Washington has previously said that aircraft and seagoing vessels have eluded U.S. agents by entering Cuba’s territorial waters or airspace. The island nation sits in the middle of some of the primary drug routes into the United States.

Castro said illegal overflight of Cuban territory “is intolerable and we cannot allow them (drug dealers) to make a mockery of our airspace.”

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“We have never fired at a plane because it could be a drug trafficker, or it could be a journalist or a U.S. senator who has gone astray or it could be a private individual who refuses to obey the order to land in what U.S. propaganda has painted as hell,” he added.

While not responding directly to Castro’s proposal for talks, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Wednesday that Washington is “monitoring Cuba’s narcotics interdiction efforts carefully. But it’s too early to assess the impact of developments in Cuba on our narcotics policy.”


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