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'Unfortunate' if incidents U.S. says harming diplomats politicized - Cuba

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'Unfortunate' if incidents U.S. says harming diplomats politicized - Cuba

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By Anthony Boadle UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Cuba’s foreign minister said on Friday it would be “unfortunate” if incidents the United States says are harming its diplomats in Havana were to be politicized, days after Washington raised the possibility of closing its embassy in Cuba. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Bruno Rodriguez said the top level of government had ordered Cuban authorities to investigate the mysterious matter, which threatens the fragile detente between the old Cold War foes. The U.S. State Department said in August that Americans linked to the U.S. embassy in Havana had experienced physical symptoms from “incidents” involving sound waves. Several Canadians were also affected, Canadian officials said, deepening the mystery. Symptoms included nausea, dizziness and temporary loss of hearing or memory. The United States is considering closing the embassy because of the incidents, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday. Cuba has denied any involvement and state-run media this week said that the only party interested in a deterioration in relations were a small group of ultraconservative, anti-Cuban Republicans backed by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. “Cuba has never perpetrated nor will it ever perpetrate actions of this sort,” Rodriguez said. “It would be unfortunate if a matter of this nature is politicized.” Rubio helped forge U.S. President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy, rolling back parts of the detente achieved under Democratic former President Barack Obama and taking a harder line on the Communist-run island. He was also among the five Republican senators that a week ago called for the Trump administration to retaliate against the Cuban government by expelling Cuban diplomats and possibly shuttering the embassy. “There emerges a doubt that some mal-intentioned forces are behind these accusations against Cuba to achieve a cooling of relations,” state-run newspaper Juventud Rebelde said in a column on Thursday under the headline “Who benefits from a setback in the relations between Cuba and the United States?”. Rodriguez said the Cuban investigation of the incidents was underway, “and in order to be able to arrive to a conclusion, it will be crucial to count on the cooperation of the U.S. authorities.” The United States in August first officially confirmed they were investigating the incidents it said began in late 2016. A months-long investigation by Cuba, the United States and Canada has yet to come up with any answers. Experts agree it is hard to see how they could have been carried out or what the motivation could be. Most theories have some weakness.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle at the United Nations and Sarah Marsh in Havana; editing by Grant McCool)
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