Cuba was formally removed from the U.S. State Department’s list of states that sponsor terrorism on May 29.
President Barack Obama announced he would remove Cuba from the list in mid-April, pending a 45-day review. Congress did nothing to block Cuba’s change in status, although the island nation has been on the list since 1982.
In recent months, Obama has made significant strides towards normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Obama and Raul Castro met in Panama in April, which marked a key turning point the two countries' relationship.
In a report to Congress delivered on April 14, Obama said Cuba had not sponsored terrorism in the preceding six months and agreed not to do so in the future. Secretary of State John Kerry made Cuba’s removal from the list official on May 29.
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"The rescission of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission," State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement.
"While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions," he added, "these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.”
Cuba and the U.S. still haven’t quite restored diplomatic relations. The U.S. has cited concerns about Cuba’s human rights abuses and its decision to allegedly shelter members of separatist and guerrilla factions from Colombia, although Cuba denies that claim.
Cuba's removal from the terrorism list was one of the country’s key demands in the negotiations to normalize relations. Although Obama has said he will ease travel restrictions between the two countries, the trade embargo will remain in place unless Congress votes to reverse the ban.
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Last week, U.S. and Cuba officials met to discuss reopening embassies in both countries, though no official reopenings have been announced as of yet.
Image via YouTube, Steward Cutler/Flickr