Tue Sep 6, 5:17 PM ET
The United States gave longtime foe Cuba the cold shoulder on Tuesday over its offer to send more than 1,500 doctors to help victims of Hurricane Katrina, which created a humanitarian disaster after pummeling the U.S. Gulf Coast.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. officials were reviewing Cuba's offer but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had indicated there was a "robust" response from U.S. doctors who have volunteered to help.
Asked whether this meant Cuba's doctors would not be needed, McCormack replied: "No, I'm not saying that. What I'm trying to do is describe for you the facts of what the response has been. And in terms of the international offers of assistance, our criterion is: What's needed?"
Cuban President Fidel Castro has complained Washington has not responded to its offer and on Sunday he gathered 1,586 doctors in white uniforms ready to be flown to the United States with satchels of medical supplies.
"Go forth, generous defenders of health and life, conquerors of pain and death," the 79-year-old Cuban leader said to the medics, who have been on stand-by in Havana for several days.
Venezuela, which has close ties with Cuba and prickly relations with the United States, offered up to $1 million assistance to the Red Cross. McCormack said he did not have any details on how the United States responded to Venezuela's offer.