U.S. President Barack Obama said Tuesday he plans to move quickly to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism – if advised to do so by the State Department.
“The State Department will be reviewing it. And as soon as I get a recommendation I'll be in a position to act,” Obama told National Public Radio.
Cuba has long called for its removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, arguing its inclusion in the list is a key hurdle toward improving relations with Washington. The island nation has been on the list since 1982 Along with Cuba, the list also includes Iran, Sudan and Syria.
Obama explained the “criteria” for inclusion on the controversial list “is very straight forward.”
“'Is this particular country considered a state sponsor of terrorism,' not, 'do we agree with them on everything,'” he said. Obama added, “Overall, I think our goal here is what I discussed back in December, which is, do we have the ability to change the relationship of the United States and Cuba in such a way that it benefits the Cuban people in the long term?”
Since Obama ordered a review of the listing in December 2014, the State Department has made no clear, public indication of whether they are leaning toward dropping Cuba from the terror list, or instead ignoring Havana's call for delisting.
However, according to Reuters, behind closed doors U.S. officials have stated the listing review has been sped up ahead of the Summit of the Americas, which takes place this week.
Obama has previously said he hopes to have a U.S. embassy operating in Havana by the time of the summit.
“Our hope is to be in a position where we can open an embassy there — that we can start having more regular contacts and consultations around a whole host of issues, some of which we have interests in common,” he told NPR.
“There are areas where there are serious differences, and you know, I don't expect immediate transformation in the Cuban-American relationship overnight. But I do see the possibility — a great hunger within Cuba — to begin a change,” he said.
Note: This article was originally published on April 7, 2015 on http://www.telesurtv.net/english It has been edited and republished by News Jamaica.net. The original version, with references, can be seen Here.
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