Raul Castro Meets US Lawmakers Probing ‘Sonic Attacks’

Raul Castro Meets US Lawmakers Probing ‘Sonic Attacks’

U.S. Senator Leahy, who leads a congressional delegation to meet with Cuban government officials, small business entrepreneurs and others, boards a car in Havana. | Photo: Reuters

HAVANA, Feb. 21th President Raul and senior government officials thanked the congressmen for trying to resolve the conflict, insisting the accusations lacked evidence.

Cuban President Raul Castro received Tuesday a delegation of U.S. Democratic congressmen from the United States who are visiting Havana to talk with authorities of the Caribbean country about their investigation into alleged “sonic” attacks that affected U.S. diplomats on the island.

Raul and the group of U.S. lawmakers headed by Senator Patrick Leahy discussed “matters of interest to both countries,” said a note released on Cuban state television with images of the meeting.

Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Gary Peters of Michigan, as well as Democratic representatives James McGovern of Massachusetts and Susan Davis of California, are also part of the delegation that has been in the Cuban capital Havana since last Saturday.

The meeting was attended by the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez, and the Director General for the United States of the Foreign Ministry Carlos Fernandez de Cossío, who had a “constructive and sincere” dialogue with the visitors a day earlier according to comments made by him through his official Twitter account.

Over the past few days the delegation had a series of meetings with Cuban government officials and diplomats from other countries on the island to discuss the state of the investigation into the mysterious attacks on representatives at the U.S. embassy which allegedly took place over several months in 2016 and 2017.

While Fernandez de Cossío thanked the delegation for trying to improve the relations between the two nations, according to local media, he asserted the lack of evidence and the difficulties to carry out a rigorous investigation.

As a result of the attacks alleged by the Donald Trump administration, Washington withdrew almost all personnel from its embassy in Havana last October and expelled 17 Cuban diplomats from the U.S., in addition to approving new restrictions on trade and travel later in November.

The Cuban presidency said Raul and the U.S. Congress delegation also discussed the suspension of consular affairs due to the lack of personnel in both embassies, which formally reopened in July 2015, as well as the the tightening of the blockade against the Caribbean island by the Trump administration.

The head of the delegation Senator Leahy, who is the vice chairman of the Senate appropriation committee, has been one of the main advocates of rapprochement between the United States and Cuba in the Congress and has visited the island on numerous occasions.

Meanwhile the Trump administration’s accusation against the Cuban government have been discredited by officials in both countries. A preliminary report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, last month indicated that there is no evidence that sonic waves damaged the health U.S. diplomats and their families.

Also Coronel Ramiro Ramirez, head of the Cuban security detail responsible for the protection of diplomats on the Caribbean island, explained that such an acoustic weapon, even if employed by a third party as U.S. officials have suggested, would have affected the health of other people in the general area and could not have singled out U.S. diplomats as part of a deliberate attack.

The U.S. lawmakers are due to hold a press conference Wednesday to share their findings so far.