The US officially took Cuba off its list of state sponsor of terrorism on Friday as a part of the process of normalising the relations between the Cold War rivals.
Secretary of State John Kerry has signed the order rescinding Cuba from the terror list.
The step comes as officials from the countries continue to negotiate the details of re-establishing diplomatic relations, including opening embassies in Washington and Havana, capital of Cuba.
US President Barack Obama recommended Congress last month that Cuba be removed from the blacklist, setting in motion a 45-day congressional review period.
‘’Cuba’s removal from the terror list could free up some economic, political and cultural contacts, particularly between Cuba and US states,’’ said Jason Marczak, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.
‘’The rescission of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor terrorism reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission.’’ said Jeff Rathke, director of the State Department’s Office of Press Relations.
Washington says it still has “significant concerns” and “disagreements” with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, but these concerns do not warrant keeping the country on the terror sponsor list.
The communist island was placed on the list in 1982, accused by the US on the grounds of Havana’s role in supporting leftist groups in Latin America.
Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba were harsh for 54 years and they haven’t had embassies in each other’s countries since 1961.
Removing Cuba from the terror designation eliminates some trade barriers against the country. But the overall embargo still remains, requiring congressional action to reverse.
The only countries that remain on the blacklist of the US are Iran, Sudan and Syria and that they are banned from US arms and export sales including US economic assistance in addition to a wide variety of additional financial restrictions.