US Plans Major Withdrawal of Staff from Embassy in Cuba

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US Plans Major Withdrawal of Staff from Embassy in Cuba

"Because our personnel's safety is at risk and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe that USA citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba", said a senior State Department official.

Some diplomats heard various loud noises or felt vibrations during the attacks, others heard nothing but reported symptoms later. Employees temporarily deployed to the mission were staying there.

It claims its diplomats were "attacked" in local hotels. United States investigators still do not know what or who is behind the attacks, the AP report said.

The withdrawal order applies to all nonessential staff and their families. But while he said in a speech in June that he was "canceling" the deal, many of its aspects, including the opening of the embassy, remained in place.

On Sept. 29, the State Department announced that more than half of nonemergency American embassy workers in Havana will be sent back stateside. Several U.S. lawmakers have called on the Trump administration to expel all Cuban diplomats from Washington.

However, current U.S. president Donald Trump, who has announced a partial roll-back of his predecessor's policies, said he would shut the embassy again if necessary. "So Castro regime allows attacks on Americans forcing us to drawdown to keep them safe but he gets to keep about same # of people here", he asked. The attacks continued as recently as late August, they said. It is not clear why American diplomats and a handful of Canadian envoys and their families would be the only ones to report symptoms.

US and Cuban investigators still haven't determined the source of the attacks, which left some staff with injuries from hearing loss and cognitive issues to visual complaints and difficulty sleeping, according to two State Department officials who briefed reporters Friday on condition of anonymity.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that the embassy employees were subjected to some sort of "sonic attack", among other theories.

Cuba has denied having anything to do with the injuries.

In May, the USA expelled two Cuban diplomats over Havana's failure to protect American diplomats in the country. But remarks by Rodriguez, considered a conservative in government, did not appear to alleviate the crisis.

Bruno reiterated to Tillerson how important it was for the United States authorities to cooperate, in an effective way, with the Cuban authorities in order to clarify these incidents, which are unprecedented in Cuba.

"Because our personnel's safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba", the State Department said, noting that attacks have occurred both in U.S. diplomatic residences, as well as hotels frequented by U.S. citizens.

"Protecting the safety of our diplomats is of utmost importance".

But apparently Tillerson found those efforts wanting.

For months after US diplomats started falling ill in Havana, the USA and Cuba sought to prevent the issue from becoming an overriding irritant in the relationship. The embassy in Havana will lose roughly 60 percent of its US staff, and will stop processing visas in Cuba indefinitely, the American officials said.

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