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U.S. considering closing embassy in Havana

Follows mysterious illnesses<br>
Cars pass by the U.S. embassy in Havana in February 2016. (The Associated Press)
Cars pass by the U.S. embassy in Havana in February 2016. (The Associated Press)
Published Sep. 18, 2017
Updated Sep. 18, 2017

WASHINGTON - The government is considering closing the embassy in Cuba following mysterious health problems of Americans there - a move supported by Sen. Marco Rubio.

“It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday on Face the Nation. “We’ve brought some of those people home. It’s under review.”

Rubio, who helped craft the Trump administration’s change in policy toward Cuba, is one of five senators who on Friday signed a letter calling on Tillerson to probe the matter.

“Our officials and their families have been the targets of unacceptable levels of harassment and ‘acoustic’ attacks that, in some cases, have caused permanent hearing damage and other significant injuries,” the letter reads.

“The safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families posted overseas remains one of our high priorities and a shared responsibility of those nations that host U.S. diplomatic facilities. We urge you to remind the Cuban government of its obligation and to demand that it take verifiable action to remove these threats to our personnel and their families. Furthermore, we ask that you immediately declare all accredited Cuban diplomats in the United States persona non grata and, if Cuba does not take tangible action, close the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

“Cuba’s neglect of its duty to protect our diplomats and their families cannot go unchallenged. We appreciate your attention to this important national security matter and look forward to your timely response.”

The letter was signed by Rubio and Sen. Tom Cotton, Richard Burr, John Cornyn and James Lankford.