United States expels Cuban diplomats following Havana attacks

The State Department told Cuba on Tuesday to withdraw more than half of its diplomats from Washington, another sign of deteriorating ties as the Trump administration tries to determine what happened to more than 20 US diplomats who suffered dizziness, hearing loss and other symptoms while serving in Havana.

Following a report yesterday that claimed USA spies working under diplomatic cover were the primary target of mysterious "sonic device" attacks on U.S. embassy personnel in Havana, American authorities have expelled 15 members of Cuba's diplomatic staff from its embassy in Washington.

Tillerson said Tuesday that the withdrawal in Havana was meant "to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm" until "the government of Cuba can ensure the safety of our diplomats in Cuba".

Tuesday's reduction in Cuba's workforce in Washington will ensure that "we have equitable staffing levels" between Cuba and the United States, a State Department official said.

So to better identify patterns, investigators have created a map detailing specific areas of Cuba's capital where attacks have occurred, several individuals familiar with the matter said.

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In Havana, the USA had roughly 54 diplomats in its embassy until deciding Friday to pull more than half of them out and leave behind only "essential personnel".

US Marines James "Jim" Tracy and Larry Morris escort the American flag to be raised at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, for the first time in 54 years.

"It's a wrenching decision", said Mark Feierstein, the former White House official who shepherded the detente with Cuba in the final years of the Obama administration.

From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen.

The U.S. on Friday made dramatic cuts to its diplomatic presence in Cuba and warned Americans to avoid travelling to the island after the attacks, the latest of which happened in August. At issue is a condition at the embassy causing permanent hearing loss and possible brain damage to embassy personnel.

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Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Tuesday that the USA demand was "based" on the fact that "Washington reduced its staff in Havana and that the island's authorities didn't take necessary steps to prevent attacks against US diplomats".

In a meeting with Tillerson on Tuesday, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez denied that Cuba's involvement in attacks on diplomats and said the USA was politicizing the incidents, according to CNN.

US State Department has announced the decision to expel 15 Cuban diplomats, as part of the retribution measures after a number of Embassy employees in Havana complained about medical difficulties.

The US said that since some workers had been attacked in Havana hotels, it couldn't assure Americans who visit Cuba that they wouldn't suffer attacks if they stay in hotels there.

The ongoing diplomatic saga marks a further setback for US-Cuba ties at a time when the historically troubled relationship has been worsening.

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"On September 29, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as all family members", Tillerson added. We need to be smart and thoughtful in responding to these attacks. There were also concerns that if some entity - perhaps Russian Federation, or a faction of Cuba's government - is trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Havana, cutting back diplomatic ties would play directly into their hands.


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