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Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 00:06 UK

Cuba asks US for reply over funds

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque at a news conference in Havana, 22 May 2008
Mr Perez Roque called on the US to "correct" the conduct of its diplomats

Cuba has challenged the US to respond to accusations that its top diplomat on the island passed funds to dissidents.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque repeated allegations that top US envoy Michael Parmly had channelled funds from Miami-based exiles.

The US state department said this week that it had done nothing illegal.

Mr Roque also dismissed President George Bush's announcement on Wednesday that US residents would be able to send mobile phones to relatives in Cuba.

Cuba has accused Mr Parmly of passing money to leading dissident Martha Beatriz Roque from an exile it accuses of plotting an attempted bombing campaign.

'Mercenary elements'

Speaking at a press conference in Havana, Mr Perez Roque said that evidence including videos and emails proved that Mr Parmly and others at the US Interests Section in Havana had broken laws in both countries.

He said the US had directed actions by what he called mercenary elements aimed at destabilising the country.

"We hope the United States ... takes the pertinent measures to correct the conduct of its diplomats in Cuba," he said.

The BBC's Michael Voss reports from Havana that the comments are the latest move by the Cuban authorities in a campaign that also appears aimed at discrediting opposition groups on the island.

The US response so far has been to say it has a long-standing policy of providing humanitarian assistance to Cuba, including to those whose relatives are considered political prisoners.

Mr Perez Roque said President Bush's announcement that the US trade embargo would be relaxed to allow mobile phones to be sent was "ridiculous propaganda".

The decision came after Cuba's move to relax rules on mobile phone ownership.



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