ABC News' Kirit Radia reports: The United States and Cuba are holding rare talks to discuss the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the State Department said today. The talks are the latest indication the growing oil slick may be moving east towards Florida and Cuba. According to Gordon Duguid, a spokesman for the department, the talks are ongoing and said there is no word yet as to their outcome. “It is incumbent upon us to inform all of our neighbors, not just the islands, but those countries that could be affected by disasters that happen within our territorial waters,” Duguid said. “We have had working level discussions with the Cuban government to keep them informed of developments,” a State Department official said later, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss ongoing diplomatic engagements. “We provided background related to the cause of the spill, stressed that stopping the oil leak is our top priority, and explained the projected movement of the spill as it was known at the time of the communication. We also communicated US desire to maintain a clear line of communication with the Cuban government on developments,” the official added, saying the US had delivered a diplomatic note to Havana on the matter today. Talks between the US and Cuba on substantive matters are uncommon, though they had occurred recently to coordinate a humanitarian response to this year’s earthquake in Haiti. The two adversaries have also held ongoing talks on migration and postal issues over the past year. The spill, caused by the sinking of the sinking of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon, has continued for nearly a month as the US government and the oil company BP, which owned the rig, have scrambled to stop the leak which is believed to be spewing at least 5,000 barrels of crude each day, sparking environmental concerns at sea and on shore. The US has so far received offers of help from 17 countries and organizations, though so far none have been accepted according to the State Department. Duguid, the spokesman, says BP may have accepted some offers but so far the US sees no need for in kind assistance, such as booms and dispersants, that has been offered.
- Kirit Radia