HAVANA TIMES – US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez in Washington on Tuesday amid tensions over alleged acoustic attacks by US diplomatic personnel on the island, reported dpa news.
The meeting, held in the afternoon at the State Department, came at the request of the Cuban government, according to the US administration. It lasted for about an hour. Around 6:00 pm (local time), Rodríguez left the building without making statements to the reporters waiting for him.
“The conversation was firm and frank and reflected the United States’ deep concern for the safety and security of its diplomatic staff,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
“The secretary (Tillerson) conveyed the seriousness of the situation and underlined the obligation of the Cuban authorities to protect diplomatic personnel and their families under the Vienna Convention,” he added. The information provided by the United States about the meeting was limited.
Tillerson had recently said that the United States was considering closing its embassy in Cuba after about 20 diplomats suffered mysterious health problems in recent months, including minor brain damage or hearing loss from these alleged acoustic attacks.
Later in the evening on Tuesday the Cuban government responded with a public statement published in the official Communist Party newspaper online.
Granma stated that the meeting between Rodríguez and Tillerson, “requested by Cuba” was held in “a respectful atmosphere.” The Cuban FM was in the US where he also attended the UN General Assembly in New York.
The two diplomats exchanged their country’s condolences for the damages in from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, in the US, and Irma in Cuba, noted the Party’s main newspaper.
“The Cuban Foreign Minister reiterated the seriousness, speed and professionalism with which the Cuban authorities have taken up this issue. A priority investigation was initiated at the highest level of the Cuban government from the very moment they were informed of the facts and additional measures were taken to protect US diplomats and their families. This has been recognized by representatives of US specialized agencies who have traveled to Cuba, starting in June, and whose visits have been positively valued by Cuban counterparts.”
Cuba considers unjustified the US government decision to expel two Cuban diplomats from Washington and the argument used to do so, emphasizing “that Cuba is strictly complying with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Integrity of Diplomats, in which it has an impeccable record.”
Rodriguez also informed Tillerson that “according to the preliminary results obtained by the Cuban authorities in his investigation, which took into account data provided by the US authorities, there is no evidence so far of the causes and origin of the health conditions reported by US diplomats.”
He assured the Secretary of State that “the investigation to clarify this matter is still ongoing and that Cuba has a great interest in concluding it, for which it is essential to have the efficient cooperation of the US authorities”
Rodriguez added “that it would be unfortunate if a case of this nature is politicized and that hasty and unsupported decisions were made based on inconclusive evidence and investigative results.”