VATICAN CITY, April 13(AP)--The Vatican said Thursday it has offered its embassy in Washington as a site for the hand-over of Elian Gonzalez to his father.

The U.S. government plan in the international custody case has been to fly 6-year-old Elian from Florida to a neutral site in Washington for a meeting with his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. After that, care of the boy would be entrusted to his father.

A one-line Vatican statement said it was making its embassy available "at the request of the two parties" involved for the "delivery of the boy to his father." It did not elaborate.

The government has ordered the boy's relatives in Miami to bring him to an airport outside Miami for a flight to Washington Thursday afternoon. The boy's relatives, however, have vowed to defy a government order to surrender him.

Elian's was rescued by two fishermen while clinging to an inner tube in the Florida Straits in November. His mother and 10 other people fleeing Cuba drowned when their boat sank.

His Miami relatives have been caring for him ever since.

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