US Expels Cuban Diplomats

A vintage car drives by the US Embassy in Havana the staff at which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said would be reduced to a minimum

Meanwhile, Tillerson said in the statement that the United States would "continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba", and to cooperate with Cuba as his country pursues the investigation into these attacks.

DOJ investigating Equifax stock sales Top US security official targeted in Cuba Embassy covert attacks: report Trump adviser tells foreign officials no change on Paris climate deal MORE ordered Havana to withdraw 15 of its diplomats from Washington, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez criticized the USA response to mysterious attacks on its diplomatic staff in Havana and insisted that the Cuban government has fulfilled its obligation to protect American envoys, according to The Associated Press.

"Because our personnel's safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe USA citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba", the United States said in a formal travel warning.

Only days ago, the USA and Cuba maintained dozens of diplomats in newly re-opened embassies in Havana and Washington, powerful symbols of a warming relationship between longtime foes.

USA investigators, including FBI agents, have been trying to determine what has caused the injuries, which include hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, headache, fatigue, and cognitive issues.

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

The Cuban officials, who the State Department identified on a list sent to the embassy, have been given seven days to leave, the official said. But no such devices were found and the U.S. Embassy in Havana no longer considers that a likely cause. The reduction in staff will slow down the functions carried out by the embassies.

United States officials said they are convinced someone has been targeting the diplomats and they are investigating whether some type of sonic weapon could have been used in the attacks.

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

Less than three years have passed since the longtime enemies began an ambitious diplomatic experiment, restoring formal ties despite lingering resentments and potent political opposition on both sides of the Florida Straits. Cuba has not commented on Tuesday's announcement.

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U.S. relations with Havana were only fully restored in 2015, and have deteriorated since President Donald Trump took office in January. The State Department also expelled two Cuban diplomats in May over the incidents.

KELEMEN: And she says this will have a chilling effect on U.S. -Cuba relations.

The US State Department was expected to announce the decision as soon as Tuesday, said US media citing the anonymous officials who were familiar with the plan.

The argument is the lack of involvement of the Cuban government in the investigation of the unusual illnesses that have affected the American personnel inside the island.

Fifteen diplomats were expelled from Cuba's Washington embassy on Tuesday, a response to a mysterious illness which reduced the USA presence in its Havana embassy.

A state department official said that the move did not signal a change of policy towards Cuba.

The New York Times reported today that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has "also visited the homes of the American diplomats and reviewed security footage, but found nothing suspicious".

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".

America blames Cuba for failing to protect American personnel in Cuba who've been targeted in mysterious attacks affecting their health.

The state department said the expulsions did not necessarily mean the USA 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 global law to protect diplomats. So we need to keep probing and figuring out what on earth has been going on. 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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