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US drops Cuba from list of state sponsors of terrorism

30 May 2015

Cuba was formally dropped by the US from a list of state sponsors of terrorism yesterday, in a major step toward restoration of full diplomatic ties, but one that would have limited effect on removing US sanctions on the communist-ruled island.

According to the state department's announcement yesterday, Cuba had been removed from the blacklist a designation that it shared with Iran, Syria and Sudan.

President Barack Obama had said on 14 April that he would drop the former Cold War rival from the list, initiating a 45-day review period for Congress that expired yesterday.

Obama ordered a review of Cuba's status on the terrorism list as part of a landmark policy shift on 17 December, when he and Cuban president Raul Castro announced they would seek to restore diplomatic relations that were severed by Washington in 1961, and worked toward a broad normalisation of ties.

According to commentators, removal from the list was more symbolic than of practical significance.

It would end prohibition on US economic aid, a ban on US arms exports, control on "dual-use" items with military and civilian applications, and a requirement that the US oppose loans to Cuba by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Those bans however, remained in place under other overlapping US sanctions, since Cuba was still subject to a wider US economic embargo that had been in place since the early 1960s.

In a statement in April, secretary of state John Kerry said, ''circumstances have changed since 1982,'' when Cuba was put on the list because of its ''efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America.''

Cuba would however continue to face US restrictions on transactions such as exports and foreign trade due to other punitive measures that remained in place.

''In addition to the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, there is a web of restrictions and sanctions that have been applied over the years and some of them are unrelated to the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation,'' said State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke, Voice of America reported.

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