Cuba says U.S. accusation of denying diplomatic visas is affecting ties

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-29 19:12:09|Editor: Li Xia
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HAVANA, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Havana said Wednesday Washington is negatively affecting bilateral relations by accusing Cuba of not granting diplomatic visas to appointed U.S. embassy officials.

"In the last months the U.S. State Department has generated a new pretext to affect the bilateral diplomatic ties" by accusing Cuba of not granting diplomatic visas to U.S. officials appointed for the embassy in Havana, which allegedly obstructs the functioning of that diplomatic mission, the island's foreign ministry said in a statement.

But Cuban authorities said that it was Washington which decided to reduce staff in Havana in September 2017, especially consular personnel.

Moreover, "it was Washington which decided to expel, without justification, 15 Cuban diplomats from the embassy in Washington, in October 2017," the foreign ministry said.

The granting of visas has since then been subject to the haphazard approval process of the State Department, Cuban authorities said.

According to that source, since September 2017, Washington has granted 26 visas and has denied six for Cuban staff on American soil, while Havana has granted 105, and denied one as a response to the move by Washington.

"It is an unbalanced behavior, and away from the norms of reciprocity that are essential practice in diplomatic relations," the ministry said.

Cuba denied it was responsible for the "instability and irregularities generated unilaterally by the U.S. government" that hampers the functioning of both embassies.

Cuba and the United States resumed diplomatic ties in August 2015, after 54 years of political enmity.

However, bilateral ties have suffered a setback since last year following U.S. President Donald Trump's approval of a package of measures to reinforce the economic embargo on the island country and the expulsion of a group of Cuban diplomats, using the pretext of alleged "acoustic attacks" against American diplomats in Havana.

The incident of the "sonic attacks" has never been clarified, but it marked the beginning of escalating tensions.