USA gives 15 Cuban envoys week to leave

Tillerson kicks out 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington over mystery attacks on Havana embassy which have left 22 Americans ill

Tillerson kicks out 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington over mystery attacks on Havana embassy which have left 22 Americans ill

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 USA diplomats who suffered dizziness, hearing loss and other symptoms while serving in Havana.

The U.S. Department of State ordered 15 Cuban officials from the embassy in Washington, D.C., to leave the country. The secretary of state clarified that he meant to "maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba", even amid the seemingly tense investigation.

Last week, the United States government announced it would remove about 60 percent of government staff from its embassy in Cuba and issue a travel advisory for USA citizens. Those affected have exhibited physical symptoms including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.

Tillerson said the decision was made 'due to Cuba's failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats'.

A state department official said the move to expel roughly 60 percent of the Cuban diplomats in the USA capital was "not a change of policy".

A USA investigation into the matter is still ongoing. Now both countries are poised to cut their embassies by more than half, as invisible, unexplained attacks threaten delicate relations between the Cold War rivals.

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.

In the past, Cuban diplomats have complained that the United States has not allowed more people to be hired to meet the demand of hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans who travel to Cuba every year.

So on Tuesday, hours after the USA expelled its diplomats, Cuba finally went on offence.

The sonic attacks were a convenient pretext for President Trump to begin to dismantle the course of normalization of relations between the two countries that the Obama administration set in motion, Pertierra explained.

The State Department will make an official announcement as early as Tuesday, The Miami Herald reported, citing three sources familiar with the matter.

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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".

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.

Loath to succumb to the still-nameless aggressor, most USA diplomats in Havana argued against pulling out, as did their union in Washington and much of the State Department ranks, officials said.

"If the U.S. government is serious about solving this mystery, they shouldn't make it more hard to cooperate with the Cuban government during this critical time of the investigation", said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a group that aims to strengthen U.S. -Cuba ties.

The federal official, who said that there are 21 US diplomats who had health problems, reiterated today that the reasons for those events are still unknown.

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

U.S. officials refused to say how many Americans remain at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, but it's believed to be fewer than 30.

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 expulsions mark another chapter in a deepening global mystery as USA and Cuban authorities seek to determine how and why so many US diplomats came down with a range of ailments, from hearing loss to minor brain damage, in Havana.

Share with Us - We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article, and smart, constructive criticism. In addition, the US Department of State warned US citizens not to travel to Cuba for fears that they may suffer from similar attacks.

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