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Cuba Turns Down U.S. Hurricane Aid Offer

July 12, 2005

HAVANA (AP) _ Fidel Castro’s communist government, laboring to recover from widespread damage caused by Hurricane Dennis, turned down a U.S. offer of $50,000 in aid, American officials said Monday.

U.S. State Department officials in Havana and Washington said the offer was made on Sunday for emergency supplies.

``Unfortunately, the Castro government declined the offer,″ State Department spokesman Tom Casey said in Washington.

Dennis struck Cuba on Friday, killing 11 people, damaging hundreds of homes and ruining crops.

Cuba, which has not had diplomatic relations with the United States for more than four decades, has routinely turned down occasional offers of humanitarian assistance from the American government following devastating hurricanes.

During an appearance on state television Monday night, President Fidel Castro said Cuba would accept no American assistance while the U.S. trade embargo of more than 40 years remains in place.

``We would never accept,″ said Castro. ``If they offered $1 billion we would say no.″

Nevertheless, the Cuban leader said, ``we are grateful″ for the offer.

Castro said the European Union could save its money as well because Cuba was only accepting humanitarian aid from ``friendly″ nations such as Venezuela. The South American nation sent two cargo planes loaded with food, medicine and other emergency aid to Cuba and Jamaica over the weekend.

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