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Cuban Communist Panel Named to Strengthen Party

Cuba's Communist Party has named a 12-member panel led by President Fidel Castro to help strengthen one-party rule on the island.

The state-run Granma newspaper Tuesday quoted Defense Minister Raul Castro as saying the executive committee was being named "at a time when it is most needed."

The president's brother, Raul, was included on the panel, along with other Communist party loyalists.

Raul also praised improvements in Cuba's military and called for strengthening the nation from alleged threats from the United States.

A U.S State Department commission is to issue a report this week on recommended steps to help create democracy and combat dictatorship on the island.

The group, Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, has called for creating an $80-million "democracy fund" to aid internal opposition to President Castro.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.