Cuba slams US decision to pull out diplomats

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/3/6 15:49:00

Washington's unilateral decision to withdraw its embassy staff in Havana is a "politically motivated" move that will affect thousands of people in both Cuba and the US, a senior Cuban diplomat said Monday.

Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, director general for US affairs at Cuba's foreign ministry, told the press that the move by the US Department of State Friday to permanently pull its personnel from the island, as announced Friday, had nothing to do with their safety.

"It's another political fabrication that is part of Washington's long history of hostility against the people of Cuba," he said.

Over 20 US diplomats and their family members said they have suffered hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, headaches and fatigue. The health incidents were first reported in November 2016.

Washington's decision will have an impact on consular services as Cubans will have to travel to third countries to obtain emigration and tourist visas to the United States, Fernandez said.

"The United States has imposed a financial punishment on thousands of families as well as agony and insecurity. Washington is responsible for the humanitarian cost of this move," he said.

The Cuban official rejected the State Department's reference to the health issues as "attacks", saying Cuba ensures diplomats' safety.

Neither the State Department nor US specialized agencies and scientists have confirmed any evidence of such attacks, he said.

"The use of this term (attack) implies a bad intention and doesn't correspond to the wording used at high-level exchanges between both countries regarding this issue," he said.

Fernandez also condemned Washington's decision to issue a travel advisory, warning US citizens of security risks if they visit Cuba.

"US citizens don't have a single reason to fear for their safety in Cuba. The US Government has enough evidence that Cuba is a safe country for their diplomats, for their nationals, foreign residents or the millions of tourists that come to our country every year," he said. The official said Havana wants to maintain "respectful" ties with Washington and discuss important issues to normalize bilateral ties.

The Trump administration, which has partly rolled back a detente with Cuba, sharply reduced the US embassy staff in Havana after the "health incidents" and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington in October.

The United States has not formally accused Cuba of carrying out the attacks, but Trump said in October that he believed Havana was responsible.


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