The United States has agreed to accept about 600 Cubans who were stranded in Mariel when Fidel Castro abruptly shut down the freedom sealift in September, it was reported.
The decision was made when the Cuban government asked U.S. diplomats if this country would be willing to accept the stranded Cubans, the Miami News said.
Myles Frechette, head of the State Department's Cuban Desk, told the newspaper the request was made shortly after the Cuban president closed the port of Mariel Sept. 25. Frechette said there had been no negotiations between the two governments.
"It was simply a response to a request by the Cuban government," Frechette said. "We're doing it for humanitarian reasons."
The Cubans have been given permission to leave the country" as soon as they are processed" by the government, the newspaper quoted a spokesman at the Cuban Interests section in Washington as saying.
American consular officers at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana would interview the 600 Cubans before their arrival in the United States, expected later this month or in early November. Frechette said the 600 would be screened before U.S. visas were issued and those with criminal pasts would not be accepted.