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Castro To Offer Medical Training

June 4, 2000

HAVANA (AP) _ Cuba is ready to give free medical training to low-income Americans who could then return to the United States and provide treatment to the poor and underserved, Fidel Castro said Sunday during a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Castro also told the black lawmakers that while he supports their work, he’s disenchanted with U.S. presidential politics. In a wide-ranging meeting that went into the early morning hours, the Cuban leader also said he hoped the United States would relax its 38-year-old trade embargo against his small island nation.

Castro offered the medical training after Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson told him that parts of his Mississippi Delta congressional district has an infant mortality rate second in the United States only to Washington D.C.

``It would be hard for your government to oppose such a program,″ Castro said. ``It would be a trial for them. Morally, how could they refuse?″

Castro also said he was hopeful about recent moves in Congress to lift restrictions on American sales of food and medicine to Cuba.

The Congressional Black Caucus, 36 voting black House members, have long supported easing the trade sanctions. They have been joined in recent months by some Republicans and business groups seeking new markets for their goods.

The 73-year-old communist leader wore his trademark olive green uniform and spoke without prepared notes on a number of topics.

Castro also thanked the black caucus for its support for returning 6-year-old castaway Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba.

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