Tillerson to meet Cuba's foreign minister in Washington as tensions climb

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 26, 2017 2:53 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will meet with his Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez later on Tuesday, the Department of State said, at a time of heightening tensions between the old Cold War foes.

Their meeting in Washington comes ten days after Tillerson said the United States was considering closing its embassy in Havana, in response to alleged incidents causing physical harm such as hearing loss and nausea in U.S. personnel.

Cuba has denied any involvement in the incidents, which have threatened its already fragile detente with its northern neighbor. Rodriguez last week urged the U.S. not to politicize the matter and to cooperate with the investigation.

The U.S. is also expected to soon issue more restrictive regulations on trade with and travel to Cuba, following President Donald Trump's announcement in June that he was partially rolling back the detente agreed by his predecessor Barack Obama with the Communist-run island.

In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, Trump called Cuba "corrupt and destabilizing" and said he would not lift the U.S. trade embargo on the Caribbean nation until it made "fundamental reforms". Cuba described his comments as "unacceptable and meddling".

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Tillerson and Rodriguez are scheduled to meet at 1700 ET (2100 GMT) at the Department of State.

(Reporting by Yara Bayoumy in Washington; Writing by Sarah Marsh in Havana, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)