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Cuba Offers Rebels Asylum After Visit by Peru's Leader

March 04, 1997|From Associated Press

HAVANA — President Fidel Castro, saying he was fulfilling a "moral duty," offered asylum Monday to Peruvian guerrillas holding hostages in Lima.

Castro's offer came after Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori made a surprise visit to Cuba, seeking Castro's help in ending the hostage crisis, in which rebels from the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement have held 72 top officials since Dec. 17.

"This is a moral duty, not a position taken merely for advantages," Castro told reporters after seeing off Fujimori, who returned to Lima, the capital, late Monday.

Earlier in the day, after a red-carpet welcome that underlined how rarely heads of state visit Cuba, Fujimori said Castro had expressed a willingness to accept the rebels if asked to do so.

Fujimori did not say whether such a request was made.

While the offer appeared to open a door to a possible solution, it was not clear if the Tupac Amaru rebels demanding freedom for 300 jailed colleagues would agree to go to Cuba. Jamaica and Cuba have been named as possible havens for the rebels if a deal can be reached to end the standoff.

Earlier Monday, the Tupac Amaru's spokesman in Europe, Isaac Velasco, rejected any suggestion of exile for the guerrillas.

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