April 13, 2001

Jiang, Castro sign China-Cuba trade pacts

                  HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- Cuba and China signed eight trade accords Friday
                  worth almost $400 million, including a $200 million upgrade of Cuba's
                  telephone system.

                  Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Cuban President Fidel Castro paid little
                  attention to the ongoing spy plane dispute between United States and China.

                  In addition to the telephone system pact, the agreements signed covered sports,
                  educational exchange, maritime relations, a fiscal agreement to avoid double
                  taxation, economic and technical exchanges, a bank credit for a hotel now being
                  built in Cuba and a $150 million dollar credit for the purchase of Chinese
                  television sets.

                  The sports agreement includes bilateral exchanges and Cuba's agreement to
                  support China's bid for the 2008 Olympic Games.

                  In the morning, Jiang laid a wreath at the statue of Cuban national hero Jose
                  Marti. He then went into the Palace of the Revolution for a one-on-one meeting
                  with Castro and had a meeting where the trade accord agreements were signed.

                  Later Friday, Jiang was scheduled to visit an exhibit of products made by a
                  Chinese company that produces and sells electronics in Cuba.

                  Jiang also was scheduled to visit other parts of the island nation on Saturday,
                  including a visit to Varadero, one of Cuba's best-known beach and tourist

                  The trade agreements came on the second of a four-day trip Jiang is making to
                  Cuba. Jiang's Cuba visit is the fifth leg of a six-nation tour of Latin America.

                  U.S. lawmakers fail to win Castro support

                  Meanwhile, three U.S. lawmakers failed this week to persuade Castro to support
                  a deal that would allow Cuba to buy U.S. food, despite their successful battle to
                  get the bill through Congress last year.

                  The lawmakers -- Reps. George Nethercutt, R-Washington, Jo Ann Emerson,
                  R-Missouri and William Delahunt, D-Massachusetts -- attempted to put the best
                  face on their meeting with Castro.

                  Nethercutt last year sponsored legislation aimed at easing the U.S.
                  embargo by allowing the sale of American food to Cuba for the first time
                  in 40 years. The legislation was approved by Congress and signed by
                  President Clinton.

                  Although supporters hailed the measure as a victory for American farmers,
                  Cuban authorities have adamantly said they would not buy "a single cent" of
                  American food under the new law.

                  Cuban authorities are angry that the law restricts the U.S. government and U.S.
                  banks from financing the food sales - a limitation that the Cubans say makes
                  such transactions all but impossible.

                  Another clause -- included as part of a compromise with hard-line opponents of
                  Cuba -- also tightened restrictions on travel to the island by Americans, further
                  angering Havana.

                      CNN's Larry Register and The Associated Press contributed to this report.