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Talks Break Down Between Government Officials and Elian Gonzalez's Miami Relatives

Aired April 4, 2000 - 4:30 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Donna Kelley at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

The Elian Gonzalez case remains unclear at this hour. Talks between the U.S. government and the Cuban boy's Miami relatives broke off earlier today. We understand they are continuing, though.

CNN's Mark Potter joins from Miami to tell us what's going on -- Mark.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Donna, it is a bit of a confusing situation on this the fourth day of negotiations. Early this afternoon, the talks between the government and the attorneys for Elian and his Miami relatives indeed were halted. The attorneys for the family left the U.S. attorney's office. They stayed away for several hours. But just a few moments ago, three of those attorneys came back to the building -- we just saw them -- and they walked upstairs, presumably to resume talking.

Now, the main issue that drove the two sides apart is a disagreement over the role that psychologists would play. Lawyers for the family believe that a team of psychologists should be brought in to evaluate Elian Gonzalez, to see if a transfer to his father would be emotionally damaging to the boy. They believe that he could be harmed by such a transfer. Sources say the government's position is somewhat different. They have no problem with experts being brought in, but they should be brought in, they -- the government says, to help affect the transfer, to help do it in a smooth, positive way, not to determine whether it should be done. That has already been decided by the Justice Department, which indeed wants the boy reunited with his father.

Another sticking point is a family demand that they get a guarantee that if the father comes here to get his son that the father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, will be ordered to stay in the United States, and the sources say the government has difficulty saying that it can make such an order.

Now, earlier this afternoon in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, a group of demonstrators broke through the barricades at the house -- near the house where Elian is staying with his relatives, they formed a human chain around the house, it was described as a nonviolent, although at times a rather noisy event. In time, everything sort of settled own. In fact, it ended up becoming a prayer vigil.

In Washington, a Justice Department spokesman says that it is unlikely that Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, will come to the United States today. There are still discussions over how that would occur, whether he would first go to Miami and then -- excuse me, rather go first to Washington and then perhaps -- perhaps come here to Miami. A spokesman for the Cuban interest section in Washington says Juan Miguel Gonzalez needs a guarantee first from the U.S. government that he will be able to get custody from his son before he agrees to travel to the United States.

Donna, a confusing and an active day here in Miami and other places, back to you.

KELLEY: All right, Mark Potter, thanks very much.

And I'm Donna Kelley at the CNN Center. Now back to the special edition of "STREET SWEEP."

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