US removes Cuba from terror blacklist in key step to restoring diplomatic relations

Move is the biggest toward repairing relations since effort was announced in December

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The Independent US

The US has removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that Cuba has said would be crucial in restoring diplomatic ties between the two countries after 54 years of frozen relations.

The US State Department announced the move in a statement on Friday, a week after diplomats from the two countries held high-level talks aimed at reopening embassies in Havana and Washington DC, respectively.

Top Cuban diplomat Josefina Vidal and US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson said the talks last week were fruitful, according to the Associated Press. The countries agreed to further discussions on conditions for improving relations.

Re-establishing relations with Cuba has been a top priority of President Barack Obama since December, when he announced his plans to reopen embassies. He has since met – and shaken hands with – Cuban President Raul Castro.

Earlier this week, the countries re-established banking ties, seen as an important hurdle in improving relations. Cuban diplomats previously were required to deal only in cash when visiting the US.

Although dropping Cuba from the US terror list was a necessary step to improve relations, the trade embargo and travel restrictions remain in place. Even if the countries re-open embassies, the trade embargo can only be thrown out by US Congress.

 

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