The State Department is lauding Cuba for sending resources to help fight Ebola in West Africa, with spokeswoman Marie Harf not ruling out further cooperation with the communist island in the future.
“Cuba, a country of just 11 million people, has sent 165 health professionals and it plans to send nearly 300 more,” Kerry said in Washington on Friday while noting “nations large and small stepping up in impressive ways to make a contribution on the front lines.”
Granma reported that Raul Castro said today Cuba “is ready to work shoulder to shoulder with all nations, including the United States” to stop the spread of Ebola “and that urgently needed is the will to integrate, organize and plan, as well as articulate efforts – not only for assistance and treatment, but for prevention and strict adherence to medical protocols, as well.”
Today, Harf was asked if the U.S. welcomes Castro’s remarks.
“Well, you heard Secretary Kerry last Friday in his comments about Ebola recognize that Cuba dispatched hundreds of health care workers to the region as part of the U.N. mission for the emergency response here and said that this is a significant contribution to the overall international response,” she said.
“We have recognized and appreciate this contribution, as we do from other countries, as well. But the fact that such a small country is providing so many resources — more than many other countries, quite frankly — is a significant contribution.”
Harf said she “saw some of those comments,” but doesn’t have “more analysis of how we might have discussions with them in the future”
“You know we do have discussions with them from time to time on certain issues, but I don’t have anything to preview for you,” she said.
“In recognizing what they’ve done, that doesn’t seem the same thing as saying you’re willing to cooperate?” a reporter asked.
“I’m not saying we’re not,” Harf replied. “I’m just saying I don’t have any more for you on those comments, and I can check with our folks and see if we have more to say tomorrow.”
She added that Cuba is “absolutely” helping by “pulling their weight.”
“The secretary very publicly and openly said that we thought this is a significant contribution by the Cubans… And I would of course welcome additional support and resources and contributions from the Cubans. The question, I think, was about whether we will work together, and I just don’t know the facts. But, of course, we would welcome them doing more, absolutely.”