The United States has given Cuba a list of 15 of its diplomats that must leave the U.S. within seven days.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is defending his decision to order Havana to withdraw the diplomats.
He said the decision was made “due to Cuba’s failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats.” He’s referring to unexplained sound attacks in Havana that have harmed at least 22 American government workers and their family members.
Tillerson said the U.S. is maintaining diplomatic relations and will co-operate with Cuba while the investigation continues. But he says his decision to withdraw 60 per cent of U.S. diplomats from the embassy in Havana will remain in effect until Cuba can ensure that American diplomats there are safe.
He said that move is needed to “minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm.”
A State Department official said the U.S. is “expelling” the Cuban diplomats but isn’t declaring them “persona non grata,” a designation that would prevent them from ever returning.
The official said the U.S. isn’t blaming Cuba for attacks on Americans in Havana and is maintaining diplomatic relations. But the official said the decision was taken because Cuba has failed to protect American diplomats on its soil.
The official also said that the American diplomats the U.S. is withdrawing from its embassy in Havana will be out of Cuba by the end of this week. The official briefed reporters on a conference call on condition of anonymity.
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