U.S. Denies Cuban Charges on U.N. Agency Report

WASHINGTON -- (AP) -- The State Department dismissed as ``nonsense'' Tuesday allegations by Cuba that U.S. pressure prompted a U.N. agency to conclude that Cuba was at fault in shooting down two Miami-based planes north of the island in February.

Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon made the allegation in advance of a meeting Wednesday in Montreal in which the International Civil Aviation Organization will review its recently completed report on the downing.

Alarcon will represent Cuba at the meeting. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena will lead the U.S. delegation.

Although the ICAO report has not been released, the State Department said last week the document supports the U.S. contention that the two Cessna aircraft, with four Cuban exiles aboard, were shot down over international waters.

Cuba has maintained the aircraft were over Cuban waters. Alarcon said Monday that ICAO's investigative processes were manipulated by U.S. officials.

``We expect the report will be an objective record of the events of Feb. 24,'' State Department spokesman Glyn Davies said.

The report also will demonstrate that Cuba did not attempt to follow any kind of standard international procedures in warning or intercepting the aircraft, Davies added.

Other U.S. officials said the administration buttressed its case against Cuba by having the National Security Agency turn over files, including intercepted communications, to the ICAO. Because of their highly sensitive nature, NSA documents rarely are released to institutions outside U.S. control.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said once the ICAO has concluded its deliberations, the United States will seek U.N. Security Council condemnation of Cuba for the February incident.

The administration may also demand that Cuba pay reparations to families of the four victims, the officials said.

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Copyright 1996 The Miami Herald