Cuba has welcomed US decision to remove it from the state department’s terror list, saying it should never have been on the list in the first place.
The move comes amid a normalization of ties between the US and Cuba.
Cuba’s presence on the list alongside Syria, Iran and Sudan was a sticking point for Cuba during talks to reopen embassies.
A US trade embargo against Cuba remains and can only be ended by Congress.
Barack Obama met Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama last week, four months after he announced a historic thaw in ties with the communist island nation.
He said on April 14 that the government of Cuba had “not provided any support for international terrorism” over the past six months.
Barack Obama added that it had “provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future”.
A statement from Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat responsible for dealing with the US, said: “The Cuban government recognized the fair decision made by the president of the United States to eliminate Cuba from a list that it never should have been included on, especially considering our country has been the victim of hundreds of acts of terrorism that have cost 3,478 lives and maimed 2,099 citizens.”
In Havana, ordinary Cubans welcomed the move.
Cuba was first placed on the state department list in 1982, for what the US called efforts “to promote armed revolution by organizations that used terrorism”.
The US believes Cuba had long provided a safe haven for members of the Basque separatist group ETA and Colombia’s FARC guerrilla group, according to its 2013 Report on Terrorism.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the US still had differences with Cuban policies and actions, but they were not “relevant” to the terror list.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a candidate for the US presidency, condemned the White House decision, saying Cuba remained a state sponsor of terrorism.
At least 36 Cuban opposition activists have been released from prison since January 7, according to dissident organizations.
They are believed to be from a list of 53 activists the US requested to be freed as part of efforts to mend links.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the US was pleased with the move.
Cuba and the US announced last month they had agreed to restore diplomatic relations, severed since 1961.
The American government is confident that the Cuban authorities will keep their word and release more political prisoners, said Eric Schultz.
The 53 names put forward by the US have not been disclosed.
Twenty-nine of the activists released since January 7 are from the dissident Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).
“Our freed prisoners are committed to continue fighting for the democratic Cuba which we all want,” the group’s leader, Jose Daniel Ferrer, said in a statement.
“The UNPACU activists have left prison with more energy, force and motivation than they had when they were jailed.”
On January 8, the US announced that Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson would lead a delegation travelling to the capital, Havana, later this month.
These will be the first high level talks since Cuba and the US announced that they were restoring relations.
The US Department of State said the talks – to take place on January 21 and 22 – will focus on migration.
They will also discuss the practicalities of reopening embassies in Washington DC and Havana, said the Department of State.
The rapprochement process was announced by President Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro on December 17.
Barack Obama’s proposal to restore relations still needs to be approved by Congress, where it faces opposition from many Republicans and anti-Castro lawmakers.
The US says it will continue to push Raul Castro’s government to respect human rights and the freedom of speech.
Senator Marco Rubio, a leading critic of President Barack Obama on the Cuba question, and other Cuban-Americans in Congress have argued that the president’s change of policy could provide legitimacy and money for the Cuban government while it continues to violate human rights.
Last week, the Cuban authorities detained several high-profile dissidents who were planning to stage an open microphone protest in Havana’s Revolution Square.
The US Department of State issued a statement saying it was “deeply concerned” by the reports. The activists were eventually released.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.