United States to Cuban diplomats in Washington: Get out

Tillerson says the U.S.is maintaining diplomatic relations and will cooperate with Cuba while the investigation continues.

"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 USA said in a formal travel warning. Last week, the State Department warned Americans to stay away from Cuba and ordered more than half the embassy staff to leave indefinitely.

The U.S. diplomats and their family members in Havana began reporting symptoms including hearing loss, dizziness, balance and visual problems, headaches and cognitive issues last December. The US said it made the decision after Havana failed to protect US diplomats from the attacks.

The U.S. State Department on September 29 said it was cutting diplomatic staff at its embassy in Cuba by about 60 percent amid a wave of mysterious incidents that have injured 21 personnel.

In Havana, U.S. diplomats have been frantically selling off their belongings at garage sales and on social media. The Cuban embassy has not immediately responded to a request for comment but the reduction of staff will affect the consular services in Washington.

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. And it is meant to ensure "equitable impact" - the United States removed all but "essential" personnel from Cuba last week.

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Havana blasted the USA order, calling it "reckless" and "hasty". We seem to be heading in the direction of a break in diplomatic ties, although I'm not entirely sure why Trump doesn't just go ahead and do it.

The State Department informed the Cuban government of its decision Tuesday morning and provided a list of the people who would be expelled, a department official told NBC News.

"This move does not signal a change of policy or determination of responsibility for the attacks on USA government personnel in Cuba".

The Associated Press, which the Los Angeles Times says is one of the few Western news outlets with offices in the Cuban capital, added an extra wrinkle to the story yesterday when it reported that United States intelligence officers working undercover were among the "first and most severely affected victims".

Some fear these expulsions could harm diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba.

Last week, the USA claimed not to know the methods, means and manner of attacks on its diplomats.

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The decision announced Tuesday is certain to deepen the rift between the two countries over what the State Department has called "specific attacks" on USA diplomats during the past 10 months.

In numerous more recent cases, victims didn't hear noises and weren't aware an attack was occurring, identifying the symptoms only later.

The federal official, who said that there are 21 USA diplomats who had health problems, reiterated today that the reasons for those events are still unknown.

In an official statement, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said the United States States was expelling 15 Cuban diplomats "due to Cuba's failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention".

Also on Friday, the USA government warned against travels to Cuba.

For those staying and new arrivals, the USA has been giving instructions about what to watch and listen for to identify an attack in progress. There were also concerns that if some entity - perhaps Russian Federation, or a faction of Cuba's government - is trying to drive a wedge between Washington and Havana, cutting back diplomatic ties would play directly into their hands.

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  • Jermaine Castillo