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Brazilian President Set to Meet Castro in Havana - 2003-09-24

Brazilian officials say President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is scheduled to arrive in Havana Friday for talks with his Cuban counterpart, Fidel Castro. But, they tell the Associated Press that President da Silva has no plans to meet with Cuba's dissidents.

Brazilian officials in Havana made the comments Tuesday as relatives and supporters of some jailed dissidents called on the Brazilian leader to intercede on their behalf in talks with President Castro.

Cuba has been under increased international criticism following a March crackdown that led to lengthy prison terms for 75 dissidents. The jailed pro-democracy activists have denied charges of working with U.S. diplomats to subvert the Cuban government.

Earlier, the French-based press advocacy group Reporters Without Borders also urged Mr. da Silva to meet with the families of jailed independent journalists arrested in the Cuban government crackdown. The press group went on to say Mr. da Silva's personal credibility and Brazil's reputation are at stake.