Over the summer, Assistant Secretary General Anthony Banbury told ABC News that the U.N. sincerely wanted to know if it played a part in the outbreak, but independent efforts to answer that question had not succeeded. He said the disease could have just as easily been carried by a backpacker or civilian aid worker.
Banbury said the U.N., through both its peacekeeping mission and its civilian organizations "are working very hard ... to combat the spread of the disease and bring assistance to the people. And that's what's important now."
"The scientists say it can't be determined for certainty where it came from," Banbury said. "So we don't know if it was the U.N. troops or not. That's the bottom line."
Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research called Clinton's comments an important first step toward accountability.
"President Clinton's acknowledgement, as a U.N. official, should bring us one step closer to the U.N. taking responsibility for what it has done, and fixing it." Weisbrot said.