First lady opposes legislation to give Cuban boy residency; Giuliani, her Senate rival, favors keeping him in U.S.


NEW YORK -- Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday that she opposed legislation -- backed by Vice President Al Gore and Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani -- that would grant Elian Gonzalez permanent resident status and prevent the United States from returning the boy to his father in Cuba.

Clinton disclosed her position a day after Giuliani said he strongly opposed returning the 6-year-old boy to Cuba.

Giuliani, who is running against Clinton for senator from New York, said he supported congressional legislation that would grant Elian permanent resident status, while a family court determines his future.

Gore broke with the Clinton administration to back the bill.

In Miami, after a tense week filled with defiant speeches against the federal government and accusations by family members that Elian's father has been abusive to the boy in telephone calls, a comparative calm settled over Little Havana yesterday.

Even the demonstrators were mostly quiet outside the house where the 6-year-old boy is staying with his great-uncle, Lazaro Gonzalez, and other relatives.

Lazaro Gonzalez and federal government officials agreed to suspend their negotiations pending a ruling on a custody appeal by the relatives.

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