While the complete strategy for handling the requests has not been developed, the cable promised that more clarity would be coming.
Asked about reports of the freeze on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said there was “no truth whatsoever” to them. Minutes later, he noted that “whatever we have, whatever we’ve committed to, we commit,” but added that “we also need a lot for ourselves.”
The presidents of two regions in France have claimed that American customers — without specifying who — have tried to pay Chinese suppliers three or four times the agreed price to get critical supplies diverted.
Beyond personal protective equipment there are other kinds of assistance that foreign governments could ask the US for, such as technical assistance with epidemiological investigation and contact tracing.
For now the State Department is asking the diplomats at posts worldwide to send specific requests to specific agencies. State also wants the diplomats to keep a list of the requests and to maintain open dialogue between posts.
“Lists of all requests from host governments and authorities and international organizations … could provide insight into changing needs during various stages of the epidemic and, if shared between Posts, may help agencies prepare for support that will be needed in other countries,” the cable said.
The State Department is also asking diplomats to “proactively coordinate and de-conflict” the assistance to countries and jurisdictions locally.
A separate process is being developed for entities and governments that are offering assistance to the US, which will be run out of the State Department through its operations center crisis management and strategy office, the cable says.
The State Department has not replied to a request for comment on this new initiative or provided clarity as to how the parallel efforts at the department tracking the incoming requests for assistance and the incoming offers of assistance will be coordinated.