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U.S. Defends Its Cuban Policy

January 14, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The State Department, citing existing flows of humanitarian items to Cuba, said Wednesday it opposes efforts to lift restrictions on the sale of U.S. food and medicines to the island.

Spokesman James Foley said the United States permits humanitarian donations to Cuba as well as the sale on a restricted basis of medicines and medical supplies.

He said the United States has licensed donations of more than $227 million in medicines and medical supplies since 1992 and more than $1 billion worth of donations of all types of humanitarian assistance.

Foley denied that there is a humanitarian crisis in Cuba as a result of the curbs.

On Tuesday, a broad range of groups joined to form the Americans for Humanitarian Trade With Cuba and expressed support for unlimited humanitarian sales to Cuba.

Group members said American policies are contributing to a humanitarian crisis on the island.

Foley said economic pressure on Cuba is part of a multifaceted strategy to promote democracy and human rights there.

He also reaffirmed that the United States would be prepared to respond reciprocally if the Cuban government undertook fundamental democratic change.

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