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President Carter's Comments at Cuban Biotech Center

By Jimmy Carter

Statement of Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter At the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Havana, Cuba

I think I can represent The Carter Center in saying that we have been overwhelmed with the dedication of the Cuban people and the government, and their research and humanitarian sharing of knowledge about better healthcare with the rest of the world.

It may be that Cuba is unique in having emphasized the health need as a driving force and not just how to make a profit on specific medicines developed. We have also been impressed with the range of cooperation that has been developed between Cuba and other countries on Earth. The results of preventive health care, including vaccinations of children in Cuba is indeed impressive. My hope is that in the future there could be close cooperation between the scientific and medical community in Cuba and that of my own country, the United States. My personal thanks and that of tens of millions of people around the world who have benefited from this research in Cuba I would like personally to emphasize.

With some degree of reluctance I would also like to comment on the allegation of bioterrorism. I do this because these allegations were made maybe not coincidentally just before our visit to Cuba. In preparation for this unprecedented visit, I requested, and we all received, intense briefings from the State Department, the intelligence agencies of my country, and high officials in the White House. One purpose of this briefing was for them to share with us any concerns that my government had about possible terrorist activities that were supported by Cuba. There were absolutely no such allegations made or questions raised. I asked them specifically on more than one occasion is there any evidence that Cuba has been involved in sharing any information to any other country on Earth that could be used for terrorist purposes. And the answer from our experts on intelligence was "no."

I think it's very significant though that this allegation was made, and I'm grateful for a chance to come here at the center of this effort on behalf of Cuba. In the welcoming address at the airport when we arrived, your president publicly offered that any person who wanted to come and investigate any allegations concerning this bioterrorism issue would be free and welcome to come without restraint. My presumption and hope is that anyone who does have evidence of this kind would take advantage of this offer.

One of the allegations was that Cuba was providing potentially terrorist information to Libya and to Iran. The understanding I have this morning is that there is no relationship at all between Cuba and Libya in this field, and that there is a standard contract prescribed by the international community that any technology shared would be restrained from any illicit use. The relationship between Cuba and Iran in this respect is just in the initial stages and has not reached the point of technological development. And my hope and my presumption is that Cuba will be very intensely concentrated upon enforcing that provision that would prevent any illicit or improper use of the technology, which they share. In closing, let me thank everyone for these wonderful presentations that we have received this morning.


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