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Officials: US to ask Cuba to cut embassy staff by 60 percent

AP  |  Washington 

The Trump administration is preparing to ask to withdraw 60 per cent of its diplomats from Washington, US officials has said, in response to last week's US move to cut its own embassy staff in by a similar amount.

The US request marks yet another major setback for relations between the and Cuba, two countries that only recently renewed diplomatic relations after a half- century of hostility.

It comes as the US seeks to protect its own diplomats from unexplained attacks that have harmed at least 21 Americans in with ailments that affected their hearing, cognition, balance and vision.

The State Department is expected to announce the decision Tuesday, officials said, though they cautioned no decision was formalized until publicly announced. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the plan publicly and requested anonymity.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson discussed the plan Monday with President Donald Trump, one of the officials said. has denied involvement in the attacks. Though is likely to view the move as unwarranted retaliation, US officials said the goal wasn't to punish the communist-run island, but to ensure both countries have a similar number of diplomats in each other's capitals.

The will formally ask to pull the diplomats, but won't expel them forcefully unless Havana refuses, the officials said.

Tensions between the two neighbors have been escalating amid serious U.S. concern about the unexplained attacks on Americans in Havana. On Monday, The Associated Press reported that U.S. spies working out of the embassy under diplomatic cover were the first and most severely affected victims.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 03 2017. 09:02 IST