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WHITE HOUSE TURNS UP HEAT AGAINST CUBA

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Under attack from critics who say the United States isn't getting tough enough with Cuba, the Clinton administration Tuesday defended its response to the downing of two unarmed U.S. civilian planes off the Cuban coast.

"We took additional measures yesterday which are effective and will increase the pressure on Castro's government," said Undersecretary of State Peter Tarnoff in an interview with CBS. "It's exactly what's war-ranted at this time."President Clinton announced a series of actions Monday designed to retaliate against Fidel Castro's government for the incident Saturday over the Florida Straits that left four occupants of the planes missing and presumed dead. Another plane from the Cuban-American exile group Brothers to the Rescue escaped Cuban MiGs and returned safely to the United States.

Congressional Republicans said Clinton's actions are welcomed but don't go far enough.

"Castro won't exactly be shaking in his boots unless we get tougher sanctions," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a Cuban-American who represents a heavily Cuban district in Miami.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., declared that Clinton was "coddling Castro."

"The president has yet to understand that the only way to deal with Castro's tyranny is with real firmness and pressure," said Dole, the Senate majority leader.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said Congress "either this week or nextweek" would send the president legislation dramatically expanding sanctions on Cuba. He criticized the administration for not pushing more vigorously for a condemnation of Cuba from the United Nations.

"The administration needs to indicate clearly that our goal, frankly, is a free, democratic Cuba and our goal is not to find ways to accommodate Fidel," Gingrich said.

Clinton halted all charter flights between the United States and Cuba and added new restrictions to Cuban diplomats' U.S. travel. He pledged support for legislation toughening the embargo against Cuba and said he would ask Congress to compensate the victims' families out of $100 million in frozen Cuban assets.

Clinton called the attack "an appalling reminder of the nature of the Cuban regime: repressive, violent, scornful of international law," and said he was "not ruling out any further steps in the future should they be required."

Several members of Congress and Cuban American activists demanded more punitive measures, starting with final action of a tough bill - bottled up in a House-Senate conference committee - that would dramatically expand sanctions on Havana.

Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, promised to pass "the strongest possible" embargo bill "and have it on the president's desk before the blood dries on Fidel Castro's hands."

In other developments:

- A Cuban air force pilot who defected to the United States said Monday he returned to Cuba three days ago and gave the Castro government information about the Brothers group. Juan Pablo Roque, who had been a volunteer pilot with the Miami-based group, said on Cuban television he wanted to reveal "the real character" of Brothers. He accused the group's leaders of having ties to the CIA and flying over the island in the past to prepare for acts of sabotage.

- The United States pressed the U.N. Security Council to condemn Cuba for downing the planes, but early action on such a statement was delayed by China. The council finally agreed early Tuesday to a watered down "president's statement" - which carries less weight than a legally binding resolution - saying the council "strongly deplores" the Cuban action. The United States wanted the statement to "condemn" the action.

- The Federal Aviation Administration said it sought last August to suspend the pilot's license of Jose Basulto, a co-founder of the Brothers group, for flying into Cuban airspace without permission. Basulto flew the plane that was not shot down in the incident.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The new sanctions

- Suspend all charter air travel from the United States to Cuba.

- Request Congress enact legislation providing compensation to the families of the victims. The money would come out of assets belonging to Cuba but frozen in the United States.

- Seek a compromise with Republican lawmakers on a bill that would dramatically expand economic sanctions already imposed on Cuba.

- Expand the reach of Radio Marti, the U.S. propaganda network, throughout Cuba.

- Tighten travel restrictions on Cuban officials living or visiting the United States.