High-Level Meeting between USA and Cuba Addressed "Sonic Attacks" on Havana Embassy

Tillerson meets Cuba minister on'attacks on US staff

The White House does not believe the Cuban government is behind the mysterious sonic attacks against US personnel but plans to pull American staff out of Havana as the number of cases climbs, according to multiple USA sources familiar with the investigation.

The State Department has said it took that action to protest Havana's apparent failure to protect American diplomats in Cuba, not because the USA believed Castro's government was behind the attacks. Cuba requested the meeting as the U.S. considers shuttering the newly re-opened U.S. Embassy in Havana, a response that would deal a devastating blow to the delicate rapprochement between the countries.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke of the "seriousness of the situation, and stressed to Cuban authorities about their obligation to protect the staff of the embassy and their families", the Cuban statement said.

Parrilla said: "Cuba has never perpetrated nor will it ever perpetrate actions of this sort".

Tillerson met with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodríguez on Monday and reportedly issued a "firm and frank" statement of concern to the nation's top diplomat. Some have hearing loss while others have suffered from mild traumatic brain injuries. The Trump administration has also considered smaller-scale steps such as withdrawing all nonessential personnel from Havana, leaving the embassy technically open but unable to perform its full range of functions unless and until the health concerns are resolved, US officials have said.

That number could change, she said, noting that the tally has shifted upward as the US government has medically confirmed the number of individuals impacted by the attacks.

Washington earlier expelled two Cuban diplomats over the issue, although it has not so far directly blamed Havana for the health-related episodes.

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"We've had regular contact to register our deep concern with what's happened in Havana and to remind the Cuban government its obligation under the Geneva convention to protect our embassy employees and their families down there", Sullivan said.

"I've been trying to get a briefing scheduled and we can't seem to get it", Sires told Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan during a House Foreign Affairs Committee briefing Tuesday.

Yet while the USA has avoided blaming Cuba directly for the incidents, the growing public outrage has forced both countries to adopt a tougher tone.

"The United States embassy in Cuba should close without a doubt and the "diplomats" of the Castro regime declared personae non gratae in the United States", the letter read, arguing that the attacks on at least 21 American diplomats in Havana, which left some with severe hearing loss and brain damage, required "drastic measures against the Castro government".

Despite the presence of several theories, including a sonic attack, experts have been unable to explain the matter.

Former President Barack Obama re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015 and loosened some restrictions on doing business in the country.

The U.S. has said the tally of Americans affected could grow as more cases are potentially detected.

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