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Miami Relatives of Elian Gonzalez Ask Government to Hold Off Returning 6-Year-Old to Cuba

Aired March 23, 2000 - 2:09 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Now the latest in the long custody fight over Elian Gonzalez: Lawyers for the boy's Miami relatives are asking the government now to hold off returning the 6-year-old to Cuba. A judge's ruling earlier this week cleared the way for that.

But as CNN's Susan Candiotti now reports, key issues remain unresolved.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): While attorneys for the Florida relatives of Elian Gonzalez pound out the paper work on an appeal, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno won't say one or another how she plans to reunite father and son.

JANET RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We are involved in trying to work with everybody concerned, to work out an orderly, prompt and fair process. And, otherwise, I don't think we should speculate on what's going to happen.

CANDIOTTI: The attorney for Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, is President Clinton's former impeachment lawyer, Gregory Craig. He had a private meeting with the attorney general Wednesday. Craig would not disclose details, a scenario or a timeframe for Elian's father to come to the U.S. for his son. Calling a reunion inevitable, Craig suggested the boy's Florida relatives reach out to Elian's father.

GREGORY CRAIG, ATTORNEY FOR ELIAN'S FATHER: He would be prepared to come in a moment's notice if he -- if I were to tell him that we had assurances from the government of the United States or from the relatives in Miami that he would be able, when he got to the United States, to take custody of Elian. There's no point for him to come into the United States if he just sits in a hotel room alone.

CANDIOTTI: But a spokesman for the boy's Florida relatives insist the family's only plan for now is to exhaust every possible appeal, including the Supreme Court, to avoid sending the boy home to Cuba.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CANDIOTTI: Attorneys for the boy's family here in Florida are also engaged in a dialogue with government's lawyers. Sources say both camps met here in Miami on Wednesday. Attorneys for the -- Elian's Florida relatives are asking the government to wait until the appeals process is completely done before they try to reunite father and son. That appeals process, of course, could take weeks or possibly months. The government's answer? Sources say they would not commit one way or the other.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, reporting live in Miami.

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