U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was tight-lipped on the status of the U.S. Embassy in Havana during a brief interaction with reporters before a meeting with the foreign affairs secretary of the Philippines.
“We’ll let you know,” Tillerson said in response to whether the U.S. is considering closing the embassy. He also said the State Department will comment later on the unexplained incidents that left up to 25 U.S. diplomats and their family members with symptoms such as hearing loss and traumatic brain injuries.
Tillerson’s comments came one day after he complied with Cuba’s request to meet with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in Washington, D.C. The meeting was the highest-level discussion between the two countries since Donald Trump’s inauguration. Rodriguez reaffirmed that Cuba is not responsible for the alleged attacks and urged cooperation in the investigation, according to a Foreign Ministry readout of the meeting.
“He also stated that it would be regrettable that a matter of this nature is politicized and that hasty decisions not supported by conclusive evidence and investigation results are taken,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“The conversation was firm and frank and reflected the United States’ profound concern for the safety and security of its diplomatic personnel. The Secretary conveyed the gravity of the situation and underscored the Cuban authorities’ obligations to protect Embassy staff and their families under the Vienna Convention,” State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said of the meeting.
McClatchy reported Tuesday that multiple U.S. sources familiar with the investigation say some embassy staff and their families will be pulled out of Havana. The move is reportedly intended to protect U.S. citizens, and not to punish the Cuban government.
The sources also said the White House does not believe the Cuban government is behind the mysterious attacks that also harmed some Canadian diplomats. It’s not clear who U.S. or Cuban intelligence believes is responsible. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility of a third-party nation or rogue element of Cuba’s intelligence service being involved.