The Latest: GOP senators want US pushback on Cuba

The Latest on the U.S. response to diplomats mysteriously harmed in Cuba (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

Five Republican senators are urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to punish Cuba after U.S. diplomats stationed in the island nation were harassed and injured under mysterious circumstances.

They want Tillerson to expel accredited Cuban diplomats from the United States and, if Cuba doesn't take swift action to ensure the safety of American personnel, shutter the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

The letter follows an Associated Press report that examined "health attacks" against U.S. diplomats in Cuba that have caused hearing loss and speech problems for at least 21 victims. The State Department, FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating.

The letter was signed by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and James Lankford of Oklahoma.


6 a.m.

Cuban President Raul Castro stepped in personally earlier this year to deny his government was responsible after the United States demanded answers about American diplomats harmed in Havana.

U.S. officials say Castro sought out the top American diplomat in Havana for a rare face-to-face conversation. They say Castro relayed that he was just as befuddled about what was happening. The officials weren't authorized to discuss the meeting publicly and demanded anonymity.

Castro's reaction was surprising to U.S. officials. They say they would have expected Castro would react defensively or refuse to cooperate with the investigation.

The U.S. has said at least 21 diplomats suffered damage including permanent hearing loss and concussions. Canadian diplomats were also affected. A U.S. investigation has reached no conclusion about a device or a culprit.