HAVANA TIMES — President Barack Obama informed the US Congress on Tuesday his decision to remove Cuba from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism, reported dpa news.
The measure, which takes effect in 45 days under US law, was one of the most repeated demands by the Cuban government in the current negotiations to restore diplomatic ties.
“Today the president sent to Congress the [State Department] report required by law and the documents showing the intention of his administration to terminate the designation of Cuba as a country that sponsors terrorism,” said the White House press office in a statement.
The island was put on the “blacklist” in 1982 that includes Iran, Sudan and Syria, mainly on charges of supporting terrorist groups in other countries.
Documents sent to Congress show that “the government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism in the last six months,” and has assured that “it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future”, adds the statement .
The announcement comes just three days after Obama held a historic meeting with his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro in the framework of the Summit of the Americas in Panama. It was the first meeting at this level between the two countries in more than 50 years.
The presence of Cuba on the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism was considered one of the main obstacles for both nations to restore diplomatic relations.
Although the government of Raul Castro recently stressed that it was not a “condition” to reopen embassies, it demanded once again during the weekend Summit in Panama that Washington remove the island from the list “which it never should have been on.”
The United States placed Cuba on its terrorism list during the administration of Republican Ronald Reagan, over allegations that the socialist island supported terrorist movements in other countries.
Cuba was criticized for its support in past decades of the Basque separatist organization ETA and the Colombian Marxist guerrillas of the FARC.
The latest reports from the State Department, however, also pointed out that Havana serves as a guarantor and host for the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC.
Washington and Havana announced last December 17 an agreement to resume diplomatic relations broken off unilaterally by the US in 1961. The two countries are negotiating since late January the planned reopening of embassies.
The historic rapprochement between the old ideological enemies was celebrated as a milestone worldwide.