updated 9/12/2007 10:45:12 PM ET 2007-09-13T02:45:12

Fidel Castro claims Cuba’s government saved the life of President Reagan by giving American officials information about an assassination plot in 1984.

The essay published Wednesday in the Communist Party newspaper Granma appeared to be the first time Cuba has made the claim. It seemed aimed at showing Cuba has cooperated with the United States in the past.

Castro, who has not appeared in public for more than a year, wrote that a Cuban security official stationed at the United Nations told the then U.S. mission security chief about an extreme right-wing group that was planning to kill Reagan during a trip to North Carolina.

“The information was complete: the names of those implicated in the plan; day, time and hour where the assassination could occur; the type of weapon the terrorists had and where they kept their arms; and along with all that, the meeting place of those elements planning the action as well as a brief summary of what had occurred in said meeting,” Castro wrote.

He did not say how Cuba obtained the information.

Newsom Summerlin, a special agent with the FBI in Charlotte, N.C., said late Wednesday that he had no immediate information pertaining to Castro’s claim.

Castro said Cuban authorities learned the FBI had arrested several people in North Carolina and he said several days after that Robert C. Muller, the U.S. security chief at the U.N., expressed America’s thanks to the Cuban official over lunch. Castro didn’t identify the Cuban official.

Reagan visited Charlotte on a campaign stop Oct. 8, 1984, accompanied by Sen. Jesse Helms, and he attended a reception for local Republican leaders, according to Reagan’s presidential papers.

Reagan expert skeptical
A database search Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., found no reference to an assassination plot in North Carolina, said Lisa Jones, a library archivist.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Jones, who added that Reagan made only that one stop in North Carolina in 1984.

David Flaherty Sr., North Carolina’s state Republican Party chairman in 1981-85, said that he didn’t recollect details of the Charlotte event but that he never heard of any potential threat to Reagan during any of his visits to North Carolina.

Federal authorities “would normally alert us if there was any significant warning and I don’t remember hearing any warning,” he said.

Castro has not been seen in public since mid-2006, when he released a statement saying he had undergone intestinal surgery and ceded power to his younger brother Raul. In late March, he began writing occasional essays, mostly on international themes.

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