Take my Rebels--Please

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HAVANA: He's tried loud music, tough negotiating stands, the Catholic church and simply ignoring the situation, but nothing so far has helped Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori dislodge Tupac Amaru rebels who continue to hold 72 hostages. Now the President is trying to offer the rebels a new home. Fujimori was in Havana Monday to make a pitch to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who told him that Cuba would offer asylum to the rebels if all parties can agree on an arrangement. "We have discussed some points that I can't disclose, obviously, because our objective is to liberate the 72 hostages. We must be discreet," Fujimori said. While the President played down his surprise visit to Havana today as well as his talks yesterday with the leader of the Dominican Republic, Fujimori has acknowledged that offering the rebels asylum in exchange for the release of the hostages "might be necessary at some point." He seemed to lean toward Cuba's offer when he stated that he did not think the Dominican Republic would be a suitable destination for the rebels. While the Dominican Republic was the first to offer asylum, Castro has long held a soft spot for hostage-takers, welcoming Sandinistas in 1974 and 1978, and M-19 guerrillas in 1980. For 22 weeks, about 15 members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, which is known to have drawn inspiration from the Cuban Revolution, have released hundreds of hostages, but continue to hold 72 of the more prominent officials at the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima. It is not clear how Fujimoriís latest move will be received by the rebels, who have insisted all long that their one non-negotiable demand is the release of 400 of their jailed comrades, a condition that Fujimori has categorically opposed.