Ties threatened: United States orders 15 Cuban diplomats to leave


Mr. Tillerson said in his latest statement that they continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba and that they will continue to co-operate with the country as they continue to investigate.

The sonic attacks on USA diplomats in Cuba resulting in the State Department pulling most of its personnel out of the American embassy in Havana has stumped the US government, and frayed the relationship between the two countries, the Miami Herald reported. Last week, the State Department warned Americans to stay away from Cuba and ordered more than half the embassy staff to leave indefinitely.

Diplomats have been treated for ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance problems, visual complaints, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping, a senior United States official said. He said that Cuba seriously and strictly follows the duties set up by the Convention of Vienna on Diplomatic Relations in 1961, regarding the protection to the integrity of diplomats, as well as their facilities.

After months of reports of diplomatic personnel in Cuba experiencing unusual symptoms like hearing loss and nausea because of mysterious attacks - possibly made by a sonic device - the USA chose to pull all non-essential diplomatic personnel from Cuba and stop issuing visas to Cubans. But no such devices were found and the U.S. Embassy in Havana no longer considers that a likely cause.

In Havana, the US had roughly 54 diplomats in its embassy until deciding Friday to pull more than half of them out and leave behind only "essential personnel". In recent weeks the State Department had said there were 21 individuals "medically confirmed" to be affected by attacks that harmed their hearing, cognition, balance and vision, some with diagnoses as serious as brain injury.

The State Department has not disclosed the size of its mission in Cuba.

JIMENEZ: This is going to complicate and slow down any of our bilateral cooperation just simply based on the fact that there will be an insufficient number of people at the - at the Cuban Embassy here in D.C.to do very basic things like process visas or meet with USA businesspeople interested in doing business on the island. The government expelled two other Cuban diplomats in May.

Rubio, who had been calling for the State Department to retaliate against Cuba for the attacks, applauded the decision on Tuesday. But the Cubans have said they will continue to cooperate in what is already an atypical willingness to allow Federal Bureau of Investigation agents into Cuba to investigate.

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"This move does not signal a change of policy or determination of responsibility for the attacks on US government personnel in Cuba".

The U.S.is expelling 15 Cuban diplomats.

Mr Miller stressed that Cuba had denied involvement in the alleged attacks - and the U.S. had not yet explicitly blamed Havana for the mysterious high-pitched noises.

Starting in the fall of 2016, when several employees at the US embassy in Havana began complaining of physical symptoms, USA government officials concluded that their maladies could be attributed to a device that operates outside the audible hearing range - emitting what has been described as "sonic attacks". The Cuban government also said that American investigators have been allowed to work on the ground in the country for the first time in more than 50 years to look into the incidents.

Such a decision is also seeking, he added, to equal the capacity of both embassies, after the United States last Friday announced the decision to pare its staff in Havana down to a skeletal group of just 27 people who can carry out emergency services.

Earlier last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to discuss the incidents. We need to be smart and thoughtful in responding to these attacks.

"At this time, the USA embassy in Havana should be downgraded to an interests section and we should be prepared to consider additional measures against the Castro regime if these attacks continue", he added.