US withdraws its diplomats from Cuba

THE US has withdrawn its diplomats from Havana leaving only emergency personnel over alleged sonic attacks.

On Tuesday, Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez on Tuesday met US Department of State secretary Rex Tillerson to discuss an alleged sonic attack on American diplomats in Havana.

The US Department of State today also issued a travel warning, advising Americans to avoid traveling to Cuba and informing them of its decision to draw down its diplomatic staff.

However, Tillerson said Washington would maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, “and our work in Cuba continues to be guided by the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”

“Over the past several months, 21 US Embassy employees have suffered a variety of injuries from attacks of an unknown nature. The affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms, including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping. Investigators have been unable to determine who is responsible or what is causing these attacks. On September 29, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to the US Embassy in Havana, as well as all family members. Until the Government of Cuba can ensure the safety of our diplomats in Cuba, our Embassy will be reduced to emergency personnel in order to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm,”

said Tillerson.

“In conjunction with the ordered departure of our diplomatic personnel, the Department has issued a Travel Warning advising US citizens to avoid travel to Cuba and informing them of our decision to draw down our diplomatic staff. We have no reports that private US citizens have been affected, but the attacks are known to have occurred in US diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by US citizens. The Department does not have definitive answers on the cause or source of the attacks and is unable to recommend a means to mitigate exposure.
The decision to reduce our diplomatic presence in Havana was made to ensure the safety of our personnel. We maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and our work in Cuba continues to be guided by the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. Cuba has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort. The health, safety, and well-being of our Embassy community is our greatest concern. We will continue to aggressively investigate these attacks until the matter is resolved.”

On Tuesday, Rodriguez told Tillerson that it would be regrettable that a matter of this nature “is politicised and that hasty decisions not supported by conclusive evidence and investigation results are taken.”

“Cuba has never perpetrated nor will it ever perpetrate actions of this sort. Cuba has never allowed nor will it ever allow its territory to be used by third parties with that purpose,” said Rodriguez. “The Cuban authorities, based on the preliminary results of the priority investigation that is being carried out with a high technical component, following instructions from the top level of our government, has taken into account the data contributed by the US authorities and so far has found no evidence whatsoever that could confirm the causes or the origin of the health disorders referred to by US diplomats and their relatives. The investigation to clarify this issue continues, and in order to be able to arrive to a conclusion, it will be crucial to count on the cooperation of the US authorities. It would be unfortunate if a matter of this nature is politicized.”

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