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Cuba reacts to Rubio hearing on Havana diplomats' health problems

12 January 2018

US diplomats will not be returning to Cuba anytime soon, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday morning, as a Senate Committee prepared to review the alleged attacks. Marco Rubio concluded must be the product of a rogue element within the Cuban government or another nation-state like Russian Federation operating with Havana's knowledge. Though the method of attack isn't clear, he said there's no denying the attacks did occur. The State Department continues to be deeply concerned about the safety and security of our personnel.

Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will hold the first open public hearing Tuesday on the mysterious sonic attacks on USA diplomats and other personnel in Cuba.

The United States would be "putting people intentionally in harm's way" if it sent diplomats back to Cuba, Tillerson said, even as a new Federal Bureau of Investigation report casts doubt on the initial theory that Americans were hit by "sonic attacks".

The victims - at least 24 Americans, a mix of United States embassy personnel and their dependents - suffered headaches, hearing loss, disorientation and some loss of cognitive ability.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who has promoted open relations with Cuba in the past, said the United States has no evidence that Cuba carried out the "sonic attacks" that began in 2016.

"The FBI is saying that there's no evidence of a sonic attack". He also suggested other possibilities, including a possible viral attack. State Department officials will also deliver statements as well as medical proof of injuries to members of Congress at the Senate of Foreign Relations Committee.

Although the United States hasn't specifically blamed Cuba for damaging the health of the diplomats, who have exhibited a variety of symptoms from hearing loss, ringing in the ears, cognitive confusion and mild concussions, both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Francisco Palmieri, acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, have called the incidents attacks.

The incidents prompted Tillerson to withdraw most USA diplomatic personnel from Cuba in September.

KELEMEN: The only thing State Department officials have ruled out is that this is a case of mass hysteria. The officials told senators the USA government knew of no weapon, sonic or otherwise, that could produce the effects seen in the Cuba patients.

Pressed by Rubio about which officials knew what and when, Palmieri said he did not know if the Trump transition team was informed in late 2016 about the mysterious incidents, and said Tillerson wasn't informed about them until late February.

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"The hearing symptoms could be part of another attack", Brown said.

Canadian officials were puzzled about who or what might have been behind the purported attacks.

The Cuban government has denied any role in the health assaults, instead claiming us diplomats mistook the sounds of insects for an acoustic attack. They collectively had 190,000 kids in the US and "it is wrong to potentially break up so many families that have for so long made the United States their home - legally and at our invitation", the governors write.

Palmieri stressed that the Trump administration has been pressuring the Cuban government to find and reprimand the culprit or culprits behind the attacks.

Earlier, addressing the committee and the official witnesses, Rubio had dismissed the idea that anyone other than a government could have been behind the incident.

Tillerson has said he is convinced the attacks are deliberate and is unsure whether they are over.

Cuba has decried the reductions as an unjustified blow to U.S.

"I'd be intentionally putting them back in harm's way", he said.

Sen. Rubio took to Twitter on Sunday to push back against Flake's comments.

Cuba reacts to Rubio hearing on Havana diplomats' health problems