Trump Blames Cuba for Attacks That Sickened U.S. Diplomats

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While the president promised to impose new regulations to crack down on travel and commerce with Cuba, his administration has yet to do so. But the diplomatic dispute over 22 Americans who have fallen ill in Havana — experiencing symptoms including tinnitus, hearing loss, dizziness, balance and visual problems, headaches and cognitive difficulties — has driven a wedge between the United States and Cuba.

“I do believe Cuba is responsible. I do believe that,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden on Monday during a wide-ranging news conference at the end of a meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. “It’s a very unusual attack, but I do believe Cuba is responsible, yes.”

The statement went further than top members of Mr. Trump’s administration, who have argued that even though they do not know who or what is to blame, the attacks could not occur without Cuba’s knowledge and assent, and therefore Cuba must have the power to stop them.

“We believe the government could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” John W. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, told reporters last week when asked whether Cuba was responsible.

Some of the people targeted worked for the Central Intelligence Agency’s station in Havana, according to a United States official.

The president also appeared to diverge from his staff on Monday regarding his coming trip to Asia.

The White House announced that Mr. Trump would travel to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, where he is to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been accused of extrajudicial killings. Asked about the trip, Mr. Trump appeared to hedge over his willingness to visit the Philippines.

“We’ve been invited to the Philippines; I may be going to the Philippines,” Mr. Trump said, hours after his itinerary, including a stop in Manila and the meeting with Mr. Duterte, had been announced. “We haven’t set the details as of this moment.”

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Wendy Pettit

Wendy Pettit is a writer for NYT and writes for other publications on her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Zuko.

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