MIAMI -- Faced with a court ruling criticizing the government's actions in the Elian Gonzalez case, Attorney General Janet Reno huddled with advisers today as the boy's relatives sparred through their lawyers over whether, and where, they might arrange a meeting.
In the latest victory for the Miami relatives of the 6-year-old boy, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said Elian must remain in the United States until the court decides whether he should get an asylum hearing.
The order, however, would not prevent the government from reuniting Elian with his father in the United States. The father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, has been waiting in Washington since April 6.
Reno, in Oklahoma City on Wednesday for the dedication of a memorial to the victims of the 1995 federal building bombing, said she would abide by Wednesday's court order.
''But it does not disagree with my determination, it does not say that the boy cannot be reunited with his father,'' she said. ''I believe Elian should be reunited with his father and I said that all along.''
There was no word on when she might decide her next step.
White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said President Clinton and Reno spent about 45 minutes discussing the Elian Gonzalez case Wednesday night.
''He supports the approach the attorney general has taken here to try to reunite the boy with his father in a way that is prompt and orderly,'' Lockhart said. ''There's obvious tension between the prompt and orderly. These are issues the Justice Department is working through and I'm not going to speculate on what they may or may not do.''
He said the Justice Department was looking forward to making its arguments before the appeals court next month, but declined to speculate on any actions that might be taken before then. A hearing was set for May 11.
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