US fails to take Cuba off list of state sponsors of terrorism

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Josefina Vidal (R), head of Cuban delegation, US Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson (2L), and others wait to begin talks at the US State Department, February 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.

The United States and Cuba have held another round of talks to reestablish diplomatic relations and explore the possibility of opening embassies in Washington and Havana.

However, the Friday talks left a serious issue unresolved as Washington has failed to remove Cuba from its list of "state sponsors of terrorism" so far.

The US said it was still reviewing Cuba's place on the list marinating that the issue is separate from the talks and won’t affect the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.

However, the head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, said that the removal from the terror list was a "very important issue" and a priority for Havana.

"It would be difficult to explain that Cuba and the US have re-established normal diplomatic relations while Cuba is kept on that list that we believe we have never belonged to," Vidal said.

The US State Department says the process is more complicated than it seems. If President Barack Obama wants to remove Cuba off the list, he must forward that to Congress and it cannot take effect for 45 days according to the law.

Following the talks, the head of the US delegation expressed optimism that the two countries could re-open embassies before a regional summit in April.

On December 17, Obama announced that Washington will start talks with Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in US foreign policy towards the communist country in over 50 years.

Several Republican lawmakers have criticized Obama for trying to restore relations with Cuba because they say it could provide the Caribbean nation with legitimacy and money while it continues with its alleged human rights violations.

AT/GJH

 


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