WASHINGTON – The White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Thursday in response to a question about alleged acoustic attacks on 22 United States diplomatic personnel in Cuba that Havana could put a stop to them if it so desired.
US complaints about the purported mysterious incidents in Cuba’s capital have put a strain on bilateral relations, which had improved markedly under President Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.
“We believe the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” Kelly said in a press briefing at the White House, without providing any further explanation.
The Trump administration thus far has not accused President Raul Castro’s government of being behind the alleged attacks, which Washington says began in late 2016 and most recently occurred in August.
Washington, however, says Havana has failed to guarantee the safety of US diplomatic officials on the Caribbean island.
The FBI is conducting an investigation.
Cuba’s government, meanwhile, says it has been investigating the alleged incidents since it was first informed about them but denies any wrongdoing.
Castro’s government also has complained about a lack of cooperation on the part of US authorities, saying they have not shared information or provided evidence that the incidents occurred.
The US State Department has responded to the alleged attacks by operating its embassy in Havana with a skeleton staff that is not issuing any visas and only providing emergency consular services to American citizens in Cuba.
Last week, the US further ratcheted up bilateral tensions by ordering 15 Cuban Embassy staff members in Washington to leave the country.