HAVANA – The members of the Cuban delegation to the United Nations, who were expelled by the United States earlier, returned to Havana on Friday along with their families, the state broadcaster reported.
The two expelled diplomats include Minister-Counselor Jorge Peña Argilagos, and the First Secretary of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York, Rolando Vergara Sito, whose identities had been withheld so far.
The diplomats were received at the Jose Marti airport in Havana by the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Anayansi Rodriguez and Yuri Gala, the bilateral issues director and the in-charge of US affairs in the foreign ministry.
The US government ordered the two diplomats to leave the country on Thursday, accusing them of being “engaged in activities harmful to US national security.”
The US also announced that the remaining members of the Cuban mission would be confined to the New York City borough of Manhattan, where the UN headquarters is located.
The Cuban state broadcaster said the diplomats returned “with satisfaction for completing their duties,” even though Washington had accused them of carrying out acts not compatible with their diplomatic status.
Havana insists that both officials acted in accordance with the Vienna Convention about diplomatic relations and the agreement over the UN headquarters, during their stay in the US.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Friday that Cuba would respond “appropriately and at the right time,” to the expulsion of the diplomats.
He said Washington’s actions were “unjustified, illegitimate and amounted to slander” against Cuban diplomats and the Cuban mission to the UN.
The minister said the US State Department’s action set a dangerous precedent for diplomatic ties and international law.
Rodriguez alleged that Washington was seeking a diplomatic row that would result in a breakdown in ties and the closure of their respective embassies, which were reopened in 2015 during a thaw between Havana and the Barack Obama administration.
Since taking office in January 2017, President Donald Trump has undone much of his predecessor’s policy of rapprochement with Cuba.
The Republican president has intensified economic, diplomatic and political pressure on Havana with measures such as barring US cruise ships from making stops in Cuba, restricting travel and remittances and disrupting fuel imports to the island.