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Cuba Denies Blocking US Visas

Cuba has rejected U.S. claims that Cuban restrictions have prevented Washington from handing out a pre-determined number of visas.

Dagoberto Rodriguez, chief of the Cuban interests section in Washington, denied the accusation Wednesday. He said U.S. authorities deliberately lie.

Last month, the United States accused Cuban authorities of imposing "roadblocks" to prevent U.S. officials from issuing this year's allotment of visas to Cubans.

Under a 1994 agreement, the U.S. agreed to hand out up to 20,000 visas each fiscal year ending September 30.

Cuba had previously complained the U.S. was taking too long to issue visas to Cubans wanting to leave the island. Cuban officials said the U.S. had granted fewer than 11,000 visas to Cubans between October 2006 and June 2007.

The United States broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961, two years after Cuban President Fidel Castro took power and steered the island nation toward communism. Interests sections were set up in Washington and Havana in 1977 to handle consular and other routine matters.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.