Josefina Vidal, Havana’s chief diplomat for U.S. affairs, issued a statement Tuesday welcoming Obama’s “fair decision to take Cuba off a list that it never should have been included on.”
Obama informed Congress of his decision earlier in the day, after a State Department review concluded that Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism” in the last six months and given the U.S. assurances that it does not intend to in the future. Congress has 45 days to overrule the president’s decision through a joint resolution, a move which Obama is sure to veto.
The United States first placed Cuba on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1982, due to communist island’s support for leftist separatist groups such as FARC in Colombia and the Basque armed group ETA in Spain. But Havana is now sponsoring peace talks between FARC and the Columbian government, and has distanced itself from ETA.
Cuba’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism could help it secure new financial investments from international markets.
Obama’s action came just days after he met with Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, the first face-to-face meeting of leaders of the two countries in more than 50 years.
Washington and Havana have held several rounds of talks since the two leaders announced last December that they planned to resume normal diplomatic relations, bringing an end to hostilities stemming from the Cold War.