Trump Admin Expels 15 Cuban Diplomats Due to Mysterious Attacks
00:27, Oct 5, 2017
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Mr Tillerson said the U.S. is maintaining diplomatic relations and will cooperate with Cuba while the investigation continues.
Late last week, Tillerson announced in a similar statement that the State Department would withdraw all "non-essential" staff from the Havana embassy and urge all Americans to avoid Cuba, as the attacks appear to have taken place in areas "frequented by USA citizens" not affiliated with the government.
"I think the conversations have focused on the Cuban government's responsibility to ensure the safety and well being of diplomatic personnel that they host in their country, " the officials said. The U.S. government Tuesday announced it has asked for the departure of 15 Cuban diplomats from the Cuban embassy in Washington in response to mysterious "attacks" that led to the recall of some U.S. embassy staff in Havana.
Diplomats have been treated for ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance problems, visual complaints, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping, a senior U.S. official said.
Tillerson said the decision was made 'due to Cuba's failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats'.
The official said the expulsion, which amounts to about 60 percent of the employees at the embassy, does not signal a change in policy or a determination of responsibility for the attacks, and added that the USA was maintaining diplomatic relations with Havana. Nevertheless, U.S. authorities have not explained how Cuba can do that if investigations have not revealed the causes of the injuries.
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The additional victim was attacked in January but wasn't confirmed to have been affected until symptoms prompted a new medical re-evaluation, said State Department officials who briefed reporters in a conference call on condition of anonymity.
So far, 22 Americans working at the embassy in Havana have been confirmed to suffer from physical debilitations.
But James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a Washington-based pro-engagement lobbying group said: "This decision appears to be purely political, driven by the desire of a handful of individuals in Congress to halt progress between our two countries". What's more, the paper says investigators "have been unable to duplicate in a lab the effects the diplomats have experienced".
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Following Trump's decisions on this issue, several voices described the U.S. State Department's measures as excessive and alerted how risky it would be for the normalization process of bilateral relations.
The New York Timesreported today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has "also visited the homes of the American diplomats and reviewed security footage, but found nothing suspicious".
The 15 Cuban diplomats selected by the USA will have a week to leave, a State Department official said.
"The Cuban government has never allowed and will never allow third parties to use its territory for such measures", he said, adding that his country is ready to continue active cooperation with the United States in investigating its concerns.
"We will need full assurances from the Cuban government that these attacks will not continue before we can even contemplate returning personnel".
In recent weeks the U.S. 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 said the expulsions did not necessarily mean the U.S. had concluded that the Cuban government was responsible for a variety of symptoms including hearing loss, headaches and cognitive problems, but it said Cuba had failed to live up to its obligations under worldwide law to protect diplomats.
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