Despite Diplomatic Friction, US and Cuba Working Together Against Ebola

Despite diplomatic friction, top officials have been working together.

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, chief of the United States Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, the de-facto American diplomatic mission in Cuba, participated in a foreign ministers' briefing on Ebola on Wednesday, a State Department spokesperson confirmed today.

"Already we are seeing nations large and small stepping up in impressive ways to make a contribution on the front lines," he said. "Cuba, a country of just 11 million people has sent 165 health professionals, and it plans to send nearly 300 more."

But a State Department spokesperson said coordination with Cuba as part of the international effort against Ebola should not signal a breakthrough in other areas of the relationship, like a 52-year trade embargo between the two nations.

The spokesperson also noted that Cuba has kept Alan Gross, a contractor who was jailed after distributing communications materials throughout the country for USAID, detained since 2009.

But the official reiterated that the United States and Cuba would continue working together on Ebola as two of the many nations concerned about the spread of the disease.

“The Ebola virus outbreak is a global problem that knows no borders. The United States is working with all members of the international community involved in this shared effort,” the official said.