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The BBC's Alan Grady
"Elian's father Juan Miguel Gonzalez made an emotional appeal"
 real 28k

President Clinton
"I think he should be re-united with his son"
 real 28k

The BBC's Philipa Thomas
"He may never come back at all"
 real 28k

Friday, 21 April, 2000, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Clinton: Elian should be with father
Elian's father spoke of his pain over the last five months
US President Bill Clinton says six-year-old Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez should be reunited with his father.

Mr Clinton said there was no argument for the boy not to be with his father following a ruling that Elian should stay in the US until the courts decide whether he is eligible for an asylum hearing.

Now there is no conceivable argument for his not being able to be reunited with his son

President Clinton
His remarks came shortly after an impassioned plea by Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, to the American people to help him be reunited with his son.

Mr Gonzalez, who arrived in the US two weeks ago to reclaim his son, urged Americans to call on President Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno to help reunite them.

Appeal court ruling

Elian has been cared by his Miami-based relatives since he was rescued off the south Florida coast last November. His mother drowned trying to bring him to the US.

Elian plays with cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez
A federal appeal court ruled that Elian should stay in the US while it considers whether he should get an asylum hearing, but it did not specify whether Elian should be reunited with his father while he remains in the US.

"I think he should be reunited with his son," Mr Clinton said.

"The court has now said he shouldn't go to Cuba. The Justice Department agrees with that and (the father) has agreed to that so now there is no conceivable argument for his not being able to be reunited with his son," he said.

Father's plea

Earlier on Thursday, Mr Gonzalez said he found it very "painful" to see his son "being used" by his Miami relatives.

I really wish to be with my son. He belongs with me

Juan Miguel Gonzalez
"Please, I ask you to help me," Mr Gonzalez told the American people.

"I really wish to be with my son," he said. "He belongs with me."

Following his comments, more than 100,000 Cubans took part in a rally in front of the US diplomatic mission in Havana demanding Elian's return to Cuba.

They also protested against recent UN censure of Cuba's human rights record.

Cubans demand Elian's return
Ms Reno has vowed to reunite father and son in line with an Immigration and Naturalization Services ruling, and has not ruled out the use of force.

The US Government has said that Miami relatives no longer hold legal custody of the boy, after they defied a government order last Thursday to hand over the child to his father.

Relatives in Miami have so far refused to take the boy to his father who is staying in Washington, saying they want him to come to Miami for a reunion.

A lawyer for the Miami relatives, Jose Garcia Pedrosa, said on Thursday they were willing for Elian to meet with his father.

"This is a time to have the courage and strength of conviction of saying: 'Look, let's so what we can immediately.'

"We can get this family to meet without those preconditions now."

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14 Apr 00 | Americas
Elian video sparks controversy
12 Apr 00 | Americas
What awaits Elian in Cuba?
09 Apr 00 | Americas
Miami divided over Elian
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