US removes Cuba from state terrorism list, clears way for embassies
It’s been 45 days since President Obama announced the plan.
It has been 45 days since President Obama announced his intention to remove Cuba from the list of nations that support terrorism and there has been no attempt by Congress to stop the action.
The State Department said that while differences with the country persist, they have not prevented Cuba’s removal from the list.
“Although the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuban policies and actions, these do not fall under the relevant criteria for revoking a designation of sponsoring state of terrorism. “said spokesperson Jeff Rathke.
President Obama’s National Security Council has said it “welcomes today’s announcement.”
Bernadette Meehan, spokesperson for the National Security Council, said in a statement that it was “another step forward towards a more normal and productive relationship between the United States and the Cuban people.”
Meanwhile, in Congress, which had 45 days to try to stop the pullout but failed to act, John Boehner still criticized the move today, saying “relations with the Castro regime should not be journals, and even less standardized “.
“The Obama administration offered the Castro regime a significant political victory for nothing,” Boehner said. “Removing the regime from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism is just the latest example of this administration focusing more on friendship with our enemies than helping our allies, but fortunately, this will have little practical effect. “
Only Syria, Sudan and Iran remain on the list.
Cuba was added to the terrorist list in 1982, accused by the United States of supporting terrorist organizations in Latin America, most notably the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.
But the State Department admits those ties have “become more distant.” Last December, President Obama announced that the State Department would reconsider Cuba’s designation, and the president formally called for Cuba’s withdrawal on April 14, days after meeting Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas.
The removal of the terrorist designation removes some trade barriers against Cuba. But the global embargo remains, requiring congressional action to reverse.
Sources tell ABC News that today’s action paves the way for embassies to open in Havana and Washington. An announcement on this subject could arrive as early as next week.
At the White House press conference today, press secretary Josh Earnest was quick to call it just a problem on the way to the ‘milestone’ goal. the reopening of embassies in each country.
“There are always issues that need to be resolved,” Earnest said. “And in the discussions that took place last week, significant progress was made. I don’t have a timetable to give you for a specific announcement. But that’s obviously part of the next steps here, namely the opening of a Cuban embassy here in the United States and the opening of an American embassy on the island of Cuba.
Responding to criticism that some have raised against the administration’s removal of Cuba from the list, Earnest reaffirmed the White House’s repeatedly-repeated defense that fully re-engaging with Cuba is the best way to influence change in the communist island country.
“Ultimately, we believe that all of this will empower the Cuban people, this is the ultimate goal of this policy change, and there is no doubt that the deeper engagement will empower the Cuban people and will put additional pressure on the Cuban government to do a better job on human rights, ”Earnest said.
Preparations in both countries are well advanced, including the remodeling of the current sections of interest, which have served as diplomatic headquarters since the late 1970s.
The last time the two countries had embassies was in January 1961.
Sources say both sides are optimistic that differences such as the diplomats’ trips to the country have been resolved.
Justin Fishel of ABC News contributed to this report.