Obama pledges US aid in wiping out last traces of Ebola

Washington (AFP) - President Barack Obama met on Wednesday with the leaders of three Ebola-stricken West African nations, vowing US help in wiping out the last vestiges of the often deadly disease.

"We begin by noting the incredible losses that took place in all three countries," Obama said during his meeting with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Guinean President Alpha Conde, and Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma.

"On behalf of the American people, we want to express our deepest condolences to the families and recognize how challenging this has been for all the countries involved."

Obama hailed the "great courage and resolve" of the three nations where the current Ebola outbreak has claimed more than 10,000 lives, and promised continued US support to help prevent future outbreaks, even as the numbers of infected people subsides.

The United States "has been proud to lead international efforts to work with these three countries" to combat the illness, Obama said.

"Now we're focused on a shared goal, and that is getting to zero. We can't be complacent. This virus is unpredictable."

Health officials said there were fewer than 40 new cases of Ebola diagnosed in West Africa last week, the lowest number in the past year.

Obama said in addition to the lives lost, Ebola has exacted a tremendous toll on the economies of the three West African countries.

"Ebola epidemic has been also an economic crisis," the US president said.

He said the three leaders had meetings planned with a number of the multilateral institutions, including the IMF and World Bank, as they seek financial assistance to aid their recovery.

Washington will "stand shoulder to shoulder with them, to work hard to take this crisis and turn it into an opportunity to rebuild even stronger than before," Obama said.