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As Ebola crisis worsens, Fidel Castro says Cuba willing to work with U.S. to fight disease

In this Sept. 24, 2014 photo, nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone, enters a tent during a practice drill at a training camp, in Havana, Cuba. Cuba's health ministry is sending more than 160 health workers to help stop the raging Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in early October. They will stay for six months. (AP Photo/Ladyrene Perez, Cubadebate)

In this Sept. 24, 2014 photo, nurse Dalila Martinez, trainer of the Cuban medical team to travel to Sierra Leone, enters a tent during a practice drill at a training camp, in Havana, Cuba. Cuba's health ministry is sending more than 160 health workers to help stop the raging Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone in early October. They will stay for six months. (AP Photo/Ladyrene Perez, Cubadebate)  (ap)

Cuba stands ready to cooperate with the United States in the battle against Ebola, former leader Fidel Castro said in an article published Saturday.

Cuba is sending about 460 doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight Ebola, an effort that was praised on Friday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The U.S. is sending hundreds of soldiers to set up clinics and train health care workers and it also has sent officials from the Centers for Disease Control to help in training.

"With pleasure we will cooperate with U.S. personnel in that task," the 88-year-old ex-leader wrote in the Communist Party daily Granma. He said it would not be to seek peace between two countries long at odds, but "for the peace of the world."

Castro did not say what form cooperation might take.

He also noted that Havana plays host on Monday to a meeting of leaders from the ALBA alliance of leftist Latin American nations that is meant to raise more support for the fight against Ebola.

He said such medical cooperation is "the greatest example of solidarity that a human being can offer."

Jorge Perez, the head of Cuba's top tropical medicine institute, told The Associated Press on Friday that Cuba is ready to send still more doctors if there is enough funding and infrastructure to support them.

"There are countries that have resources and can send money, but there are also those who can send human resources. It's not just doctors. We also need nurses, technicians," he said.

In Washington on Friday, Kerry mentioned Cuba as one of the "nations large and small stepping up in impressive ways to make a contribution on the front lines."

Perez said that despite the United States' chilly 55-year relationship with Cuba's communist government, Kerry's words were "an important gesture."

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