U.S. Takes Cuba off Terror List, Paving Way for Normal Ties

29 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Christie Slams Obama, Says U.S. Should Not Be Taking Cuba Off Of Terror Watchlist.

The State Department removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a largely symbolic step clearing the way for normalizing diplomatic relations 54 years after the U.S. severed ties after Cuba’s communist revolution. Jeb Bush continued to take a hard line against normalizing relations with Cuba on Friday, accusing the Obama administration of capitulating to an oppressive regime by removing it from a state-sponsored terrorism list. “Neither continued repression at home nor Cuba’s destabilizing activities abroad appear sufficient to stop President Obama from making further concessions to the Communist regime in Havana,” Mr.

Removal from the list, announced by the department on Friday, came as a matter of course because Congress made no move to block the action within 45 days after President Barack Obama unveiled plans to do so on April 14. “While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation,” Jeff Rathke, a department spokesman, said in a statement. Chris Christie is blasting the Obama administration’s decision to remove Cuba from a U.S. terrorism blacklist when the nation is still harboring one of his state’s most-wanted criminals. Obama ordered a review of Cuba’s status on the terrorism list as part of a landmark policy shift on Dec. 17, when he and Cuban President Raul Castro announced they would seek to restore diplomatic relations that Washington severed in 1961, and work toward a broader normalization of ties. The Cold War-era designation was levied mainly for Cuba’s support of leftist guerrillas around the world and isolated the communist island from much of the world financial system because banks fear repercussions from doing business with designated countries.

It removes a prohibition on receiving US economic aid, a ban on US arms exports and controls on “dual-use” items with military and civilian applications. Through this new approach of engagement, we are finally in a position to advance our interests while simultaneously improving the lives of the Cuba people.” The terror list was a particularly charged issue for Cuba because of the U.S. history of supporting exile groups responsible for attacks on the island, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger flight from Barbados that killed 73 people aboard. But those bans remain in place under other, overlapping US sanctions, since Cuba is still subject to a wider US economic embargo that has been in place since the early 1960s. “Rescinding of the … designation against Cuba is an important step, however, as a practical matter, most restrictions related to exports and foreign aid will remain due to the comprehensive trade and arms embargo,” said a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Cuba had cited its designation as a state terrorism sponsor as an obstacle to the re-establishing of diplomatic relations and upgrading of their so-called interests sections in Havana and Washington into full-blown embassies. U.S. and Cuban officials have said the two sides are close to resolving the final issues but the most recent round of talks ended last Friday with no announcement of an agreement.

Even as many of the biggest hurdles, including the terrorism designation, have been cleared, Washington and Havana are still wrangling over American demands that its diplomats be able to travel throughout Cuba and meet with dissidents without restrictions. In April, Obama cited a four-month interagency review that concluded Cuba was no longer providing support for international terrorists such as the Basque separatist group ETA. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles.

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