Source: Voice of America
Title=Cuba / US Biological (l)
Byline= lisa schlein
Intro: an international panel of biological weapons experts has not been able to resolve Cuban allegations that the United States sprayed a crop pest on the island. As Lisa Schlein reports from geneva, the countries that signed the 1972 biological weapons treaty plan to seek clarification from experts about the Cuban complaint.
Text: the meeting has ended inconclusively. The delegates did not, at this time, see any need for a field investigation to look into the Cuban charges. But the meeting appointed a group of diplomats from six countries: Brazil, Canada, Iran, Netherlands, Nigeria and Russia to see if they can clarify what happened. They are to submit a report by the end of the year.
The chairman of the meeting, Ian Soutar, says during the talks it became clear that the US did send a plane across Cuba on a flight to Colombia.
It was also clear that there was an infestation of insects in part of the republic of Cuba. But, the meeting was not able at that stage to establish a formal, causal link between the two events.
Cuba claims the United States sprayed a crop-eating pest called Thrips Palmi on the island. It alleges these dangerous insects destroyed 20-thousand tons of potato, cucumber and other crops in one of the country's state farms. The United States says the American plane was on a narcotics eradication mission to Colombia. The head of the u-s delegation, Donald Mahley calls the Cuban charges baseless.
Frankly, I am not sure you would want to say we wanted to try to be exonerated because there was not any exoneration to be done there. I mean it was something in which there was obviously a situation which was not alleged by the Cubans. And, I think we provided a great deal of information for that and I have certainly had nobody challenging the information we presented.
Cuba brought its claims under the 1972 biological and toxin weapons treaty. This is the first time the treaty's provisions for investigating a complaint of an alleged biological attack has been tested. (Signed)
27-aug-97 7:02 pm edt (2302 utc)
Source: voice of america