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Cuban Military Weak, Report Says Classified Pentagon Assessment Urges Renewed Contact Between Leaders

The Pentagon says Cuba’s military is severely diminished and poses no threat to U.S. national security, according to a newspaper report that also says senior defense officials want increased contact with their counterparts on the communist island.

Secretary of Defense William Cohen portrays Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces as weak in a classified report and plays down the risks posed by chemical or biological weapons, The Miami Herald said in a story for today’s editions.

The classified report is due to Congress by Tuesday to outline the findings, said the story posted late Friday on the newspaper’s online edition.

Retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan recently returned from a weeklong visit to Cuba and is urging the Clinton administration to “regularize contacts” between Cuban and American military chiefs. Sheehan is the highest ranking U.S. officer to visit Cuba since the 1959 revolution.

“That armed force has no capability whatsoever to project itself beyond the borders of Cuba, so it’s really no threat to anyone around it,” said Marine Gen. Charles Wilhelm, chief of the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

Three Cuban American members of Congress, in a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, said they are appalled by attempts to play down Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s threat.

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