The Cuban Embassy in the United States is seen in Washington D.C., the United States, on Oct. 3, 2017. The U.S. government Tuesday announced it has asked for the departure of 15 Cuban diplomats from the Cuban embassy in Washington in response to mysterious "attacks" that led to the recall of some U.S. embassy staff in Havana. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government Tuesday announced it has asked for the departure of 15 Cuban diplomats from the Cuban embassy in Washington in response to mysterious "attacks" that led to the recall of some U.S. embassy staff in Havana.
After the departure of the Cuban diplomats, the number of personnel working in both embassies will be "roughly very close to each other," an official from the U.S. State Department told reporters.
The expelled Cuban personnel have to leave the United States within seven days, said the official, who remained anonymous, adding that the action taken by the U.S. government does not signal any change in bilateral diplomatic relations.
The U.S. State Department on Friday had ordered more than half of the staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana to leave, following the "attacks" that caused health problems for American diplomats and intelligence personnel.
The withdrawal will be completed by the end of the week, the official said.
So far, 22 Americans working at the embassy in Havana have been confirmed to be suffering from physical debilitations.
Cuba said on Friday that the U.S. withdrawal of its diplomatic personnel is a "hasty decision" that will affect bilateral relations.
Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, director general of U.S. affairs at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, said in a short statement on TV that Cuba has "no responsibility" over the alleged "sonic attacks" on U.S. diplomats.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to discuss the incidents.
It was the highest-level diplomatic contact between the two former Cold War enemies since Donald Trump became U.S. president in January.