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U.S. EMBARGO STALLING TALKS, CUBAN SAYS

Problems in talks between the U.S. and Cuba will continue until the Clinton administration becomes willing to discuss ending an economic embargo against the island country, Cuba's chief negotiator said Saturday.

Ricardo Alarcon said Cuba is "flexible enough" to discuss trying to end the mass exodus of Cubans to the United States when talks between the two sides resume Sunday in New York."But we have to make it very clear . . . that if you want to find a real resolution to this problem, you cannot ignore the sources of the problem," Alarcon said on CNN's "Newsmaker Saturday." "And the sources are the economic embargo."

The U.S. negotiators "are not prepared even to talk about that," Alarcon said. "It's very unfortunate. That means that a real solution cannot be found."

During two days of talks last week, officials said the United States proposed putting in place an "expanded, predictable, dependable and legal" migration program if Cuba would take steps to prevent thousands of Cubans from fleeing the island.

More than 28,000 Cubans have tried to cross to Florida in the past month, most on flimsy rafts. Cuban President Fidel Castro has allowed them to flee, hoping to force the United States to end its economic embargo.