US expels Cuban diplomats ahead of UN General Assembly | News | DW | 19.09.2019
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US expels Cuban diplomats ahead of UN General Assembly

The US has expelled two members of Havana's mission to the UN for allegedly attempting to "conduct influence operations." Others have been barred from leaving Manhattan. Cuba called the expulsions "unjustified."

Two members of Cuba's permanent mission to the United Nations in New York were ordered to leave the United States Thursday for engaging in "activities harmful to US," according to the US State Department.

State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that the two Cuban officials had been "abusing their privileges of residence" and attempting to "conduct influence operations against the United States."

The statement did not specify the nature of the alleged operations and the identities of the expelled officials have not been revealed. 

Ortagus also said that no members of the Cuban mission are permitted to travel outside of Manhattan, where the UN headquarters is located.  

"We will continue to investigate any additional personnel who may be manipulating their privileges of residence," she added.

Read more: UN condemns US embargo of Cuba

Following the announcement, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Twitter that his country "categorically rejects the unjustified expulsion" of the two officials, along with the tightened restrictions on movement for diplomats and their  families.

The move comes as the UN holds its 74th General Assembly in New York. The first session of high-level debate is set to begin Tuesday.

Cuba and the US have a history of expelling each other's diplomats. Relations have deteriorated since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017.

In September 2017, the US recalled most of its diplomats from Cuba and and Trump expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the US the following month.

wmr/kl (AFP, Reuters)

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