Sinn Fein says Adams 'still set to visit Cuba'

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The Independent Online

A planned visit to Cuba by the president of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, is to go ahead as soon as detailed arrangements are finalised, republican sources in Belfast said yesterday. Sinn Fein's international department is said to be working out the details with Cuban authorities.

There had been media speculation that the trip could be postponed or perhaps even cancelled in the wake of last month's arrests of three Irish republicans in Colombia.

Republican sympathisers, in the United States in particular, have publicly suggested that Mr Adams should pull out of the visit, which is due to include a meeting with the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro.

Although Mr Adams has insisted that Sinn Fein "has no case to answer" over the Colombian arrests, the party's standing in Washington is said to have been damaged. The feeling is that a Cuban visit would do him no favours with the Bush administration or indeed with many sections of Irish American opinion.

The three Irishmen are accused of using illegal documentation and of training left-wing Farc rebels in urban terrorism. The suspects are being held in the high-security La Mondelo prison after the Colombian authorities decided to investigate them further. They can be held in custody for up to eight months before they must be officially charged or freed.

In both parts of Ireland, the feeling is that Sinn Fein and the IRA will continue to be pressed on the Colombian connection, and on whether it means the IRA will continue to be active internationally.

Unionists in particular are expected to demand explanations when political talks on the peace process, which have largely been suspended for the holiday period, resume later this month.

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