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Cubans hail removal from US list of state terrorism sponsors

Published:Thursday | April 16, 2015 | 12:00 AM
US President Barack Obama (right) and Cuban President Raúl Castro shake hands during their meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama.


Cuban officials and ordinary citizens alike hailed the island's removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, saying the move by President Barack Obama heals a decades-old insult to national pride and clears the way to swiftly restore diplomatic relations.

"The Cuban government recognises the president of the United States' just decision to take Cuba off a list in which it should never have been included," Josefina Vidal, Cuba's top diplomat for US affairs, said recently.

Cuban and US foreign-policy experts said the two governments appeared to have taken a major leap towards the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington after four months of complex and occasionally frustrating negotiations.

"This is important because it speaks to Obama's desire to keep moving forward," said Esteban Morales, a political science professor at the University of Havana. "Now there are no political obstacles. What remains are organisational and technical problems, which can be resolved."

In a message to Congress, Obama said on Tuesday that Cuba's government "has not provided any support for international terrorism" over the last six months and has given "assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future".

Cuba will officially be removed from the terrorism list 45 days after the president's message was sent to Congress. Lawmakers could vote to block the move during that window, though Obama would be all but certain to veto such a measure.