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Tillerson: US may close Cuba embassy over health attacks (Lead)

Washington, Sep 18 (IANS) The Donald Trump administration is considering closing the recently-reopened US embassy in Havana after 21 Americans associated with the mission experienced a host of unexplained health problems, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said.

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

The American Foreign Service Association reported earlier that the symptoms among those affected included mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss, loss of balance, severe headaches and brain swelling.

Several US officials believe some kind of device was used to undermine their staff health while some blame the health problems on a “sonic attack”. Cuba denies any involvement, the report said.

Despite an investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Cuban authorities, there is still no full explanation as to the cause of the incidents since late 2016.

Cuban President Raul Castro reportedly gave his personal assurance to the then US Charge d’Affaires in Havana that Cuba was not behind the attacks.

The US reopened its embassy in Havana in 2015 following decades of frozen relations. In 2016, President Barack Obama became the first incumbent US President to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

Meanwhile, talking about the Paris climate accord, Tillerson hinted that the US could stay in the deal under “right conditions”.

“Under the right conditions, the President said he’s open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others in what we all agree is a challenging issue,” said the Secretary of State.

Tillerson’s remarks were in line with previous statements from the US State Department which said the US is “open to re-engaging in the Paris Agreement if the US can identify terms that are more favourable to it, its business, its workers, its people, and its taxpayers”.

US President Donald Trump on June 1 announced his decision to withdraw from Paris Agreement, citing concerns about the accord’s threat to the US economy as a main reason for the withdrawal.

–IANS
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Post Source: Ians feed

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