Cuba refuses US aid after hurricanes (Lead)

September 16th, 2008 - 1:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Havana, Sep 16 (Prensa Latina) Cuba has refused US donation and aid with strings attached in the aftermath of two devastating hurricanes but said it was ready to buy essential goods from American firms as reports of extensive damage to food crops came in from different parts of the island country. Official newspaper Granma said more than 4,000 tonnes of food have been destroyed and several warehouses extensively damaged by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

The government in a release Monday said the total damage by the two hurricanes has been estimated at around $5 billion.

Cuba said it could not accept donation from a government that has the island state under a blockade, but is willing to buy materials from American companies on a strictly commercial basis.

In a communication to the US State Department, the Cuban Interest Section in Washington said Havana should be allowed to buy supplies from American companies as normal commercial operations.

Cuba’s foreign ministry said in a statement it has for a second time rejected the US offer of post hurricane aid with strings attached, stressing that the country will overcome the situation.

The United States and Cuba have been hostile to each other, with the former having had an economic ban on the latter for nearly 50 years since the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

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