Reno: 'I told the parties... time has run out'

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The Independent US

Edited extracts of yesterday's statement by US Attorney General Janet Reno:

Earlier this morning, federal agents in Miami began to reunite Elian Gonzalez with his father, and uphold the rule of law.

As I speak, Elian is safe, he is on a plane headed for Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, DC, where he will be reunited with his father for the first time in five months.

They will remain in the United States during the appellate process... and, in accordance with the Court of Appeals ruling, we will take every step necessary to ensure that Elian does not leave the country while the Court of Appeals injunction is in place.

We have been to great lengths to resolve this case in the least disruptive manner. We tried every way to encourage Lazaro Gonzalez to voluntarily hand over the child to his father. Unfortunately, the Miami relatives rejected our efforts.

So this morning... after negotiating through the night, I informed the parties that time had run out. At that moment, I gave the go-ahead for the operation. Eight agents were in the house during the operation. They were there for three minutes. During that time, a female agent picked up Elian and spoke to him in Spanish.

The agents then took Elian to Watson Island, where they boarded a helicopter bound for Homestead Air Force Base.

There he was examined by a doctor to make sure that there were no injuries. At that point, he boarded a US Marshal's plane headed to Washington DC, where (his) father was awaiting his son.

This has been a very emotional case for everyone. The most important thing is that Elian is safe and that no one was seriously hurt.

As we all await the outcome of the appellate process, I think it is important for us all to accept Elian's long overdue reunion with his father.

It is time to heal wounds that have divided a community. It is time to help this little boy heal from the tragedies that he has experienced.