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U.S. Settles Dispute With Europe Over Cuba Policy

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 11) -- Clinton Administration sources have told CNN the U.S. and the European Commission have reached a deal settling their trade dispute over the Helms-Burton Law, passed last year by Congress in an effort to choke off investment in Cuba.

capital cuba

The deal includes an agreement by the European Union to negotiate with the U.S. within the next six months a so-called "international disciplines" that would "prohibit and deter investments in confiscated property," sources said.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry called the development "good news."

If both sides agree to the "disciplines," the Clinton Administration would next ask Congress to waive Title Four of the Helms-Burton Law which denies visas to executives of companies that do business involving property that Cuban President Fidel Castro's government confiscated after it came to power in Cuba. President Bill Clinton has already temporarily waived Title Four.

An administration source said the deal would essentially "globalize Helms-Burton" because the European Union, if member states agree, would be agreeing to work towards not investing in confiscated property in all countries, though for now the plan mostly affects Cuba, which could lose further investment.

McCurry said the president "would warmly welcome an agreement that would keep this out of the trade dispute resolution mechanism so that we can continue ... to resolve them amicably in diplomatic and political channels."

McCurry said it was important to work with European nations to pressure Cuba into positive economic and political change in Cuba.

If the E.U. and the U.S. had not reached agreement, the U.S. was prepared to invoke its national security provision and not participate in the World Trade Organization's investigation into the Helms-Burton law's legitimacy.

The Helms-Burton law was signed into law March 12, 1996, soon after Cuba shot down two U.S. based "Brothers to the Rescue" civilian aircraft.

CNN's Pat Neal and Louise Schiavone contributed to this report.

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