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The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"The courts insisted only Elian's father could decide his future"
 real 28k

The BBC's Tom Gibb in Havana
"The Cuban government now says he will return to normal life"
 real 28k

Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Mixed emotions over Elian return
Elian waving from car in Havana
Elian waves to schoolmates after returning to Havana
The US Attorney General, Janet Reno, has said she is pleased that Cuban shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez is with his father, but wishes they were together in a democratic country.

Ms Reno was speaking a day after the six-year-old boy and his father Juan Miguel Gonzalez flew back to Cuba at the end of a seven-month custody battle.

Fidel Castro
President Castro wants the US to lift its embargo

Ms Reno was vindicated in her decision to insist that Elian was too young to plead for political asylum and should therefore remain under his father's control.

"In the end, he is with his father and I am glad of that. I just wish he were with his father in a democratic free country," she said.

Elian and his father flew home after the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the boy's Miami-based relatives to keep him in the country.

The BBC's Washington correspondent Paul Reynolds says there is a bittersweet aspect to the outcome.

US split over Elian

Many US Administration officials would have liked Juan Miguel Gonzalez to remain in the United States himself.

Ms Reno said the possibility had been raised with Juan Miguel, but he had always made it clear that he would be going home.

"It is wonderful that they can now move on with their lives," she said.

There were tearful scenes back in Miami

She also attempted to reach out to Cuban Americans in Miami, most of whom opposed the US Government's decision to allow the Gonzalez family to return to Cuba with Elian.

"I would like to say how much I care about you, your community and the city I love," said Ms Reno, who lived in Miami for 50 years before moving to Washington.

The next likely move in the United States will be a vote in Congress to approve the easing of the embargo on Cuba to allow the sale of food and medicine.

US President Bill Clinton has said he would like to return to a position where both countries make reciprocal gestures.

But Congress would first have to lift restrictive legislation adopted after Cuba shot down a civilian aircraft carrying Cuban Americans four years ago.

Cuba keeps up pressure

The Cuban Government says mass rallies will continue in its broader struggle to overturn the US economic embargo.

The Elian saga
27 Nov: Rescued off Florida coast
5 Jan: INS decides Elian should return to Cuba
11 Jan: Miami judge grants uncle temporary custody
7 April: Elian's father arrives in US
22 April: Federal agents seize Elian.
25 April: Miami Cuban-Americans go on strike
1 June: Court rules in favour of Elian's father
23 June: Appeals court reaffirms its decision
26 June: Miami relatives file last-minute appeal with the Supreme Court
28 June: Elian and father fly to Cuba

Nearly 250,000 Cubans are expected to rally in the eastern port of Manzanillo at the weekend.

Elian was greeted at Havana airport by cheering crowds of flag-waving schoolchildren and his grandmothers, who several months ago briefly visited the boy in Miami.

The family drove away from the airport to a secret location for a reunion with other family members.

They plan to spend the next few weeks in Havana at a specially-prepared boarding school to help Elian adjust and offer him privacy from international attention, according to a plan devised by Cuban officials and Elian's father.

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See also:

28 Jun 00 | Americas
Joy and anger over Elian
28 Jun 00 | Americas
Analysis: Castro's victory?
27 Apr 00 | Americas
What's life really like in Cuba?
29 Jun 00 | Americas
Elian: The sequel
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