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Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez leaves after speaking at 4th conference with Cuban residents in the United States at Howard University Hospital in Washington, U.S., October 28, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas(reuters_tickers)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cuba will make it easier for its U.S.-based citizens to travel to the island, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Saturday, in a gesture to win support from Cuban Americans during a diplomatic crisis over allegations of mysterious health attacks.
"The U.S. government closes, and Cuba opens," Rodriguez told a meeting of pro-Havana Cuban Americans in Washington.
He said Cuban citizens in the United States would no longer need to have a special review of their Cuban passports to rehabilitate them before travelling to the island.
Rodriguez said that procedure had become more difficult due to staff shortages at the Cuban embassy after the U.S. government expelled 15 Cuban diplomats this month due to the dispute over the mystery attacks on U.S. personnel in Cuba.
"It's unacceptable and immoral, from the point of view of the Cuban government, for people to be harmed by a difference between governments," he said.
While the United States has not formally accused Cuba of carrying out what it says are attacks that have caused hearing loss and cognitive issues in its diplomats, President Donald Trump said last week Havana was responsible.
Cuban government officials accused Trump this week of slandering their country.
Tension over the alleged attacks, some of which involved high-pitched sounds, came after Trump said in June he wanted to partially roll back the historic detente between the United States and Cuba, ordering tighter restrictions on travel and trade. These have yet to be unveiled
Rodriguez said Cuba was making it easier for the children of Cubans in the United States to attain Cuban nationality and allowing Cuban Americans to travel to the country on cruise ships that embark at two ports on Cuba.
Havana will also allow some Cubans who left the country illegally to return, he said.
There are roughly two million Cubans or Americans of Cuban origin in the United States.
(Reporting by Alistair Bell in Washington and Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by Mary Milliken)