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Cuba recognizes 'just decision' by US to remove it from terror list

The Cuban government has acknowledged the 'just decision' by US President Barack Obama to remove it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba says it has been the victim of attacks itself.

The Cuban government has welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to remove Cuba from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move clears the way for restoring diplomatic relations and reopening embassies shut for more than half a century.

"The Cuban government recognizes the just decision made by the president of the United States to remove Cuba from a list on which it should never have been included," the official declaration from Josefina Vidal, the Cuban foreign ministry's chief of US affairs declared. The statement was read on official Cuban television on Tuesday.

"Our country has been the victim of hundreds of terrorist attacks," the statement declared. "They cost the lives of 2,478 people and injured 2,099 Cuban citizens."

The statement added that Cuba repeated it "rejects and condemns" all acts of terrorism.

US decision

President Barack Obama told Congress on Tuesday that following a review by the State Department he intended to remove Cuba from the terror list.

Obama had met with Cuban President Raul Castro (photo) at a regional summit in Panama on Saturday. It was the first meeting of its kind between US and Cuban leaders in nearly sixty years.

Cuba had been placed on the list in 1982 for aiding rebel movements in Africa and Latin America, including FARC rebels in Colombia. Cuba has in recent months been hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and the Colombian rebel movement.

Cuba has long maintained it has ceased supporting foreign insurgencies. Its presence on the terror list limited its access to international banking and overseas financial markets. While removal from the terror list will ease some economic sanctions, the broader economic embargo on Cuba will remain in place until Congress votes to end it.

In 2013 the State Department accused Havana of providing "safe haven" to Basque ETA separatists. But it said its ties had become more distant to ETA which has pledged to disarm.

Congressional vote

In his report to Congress, Obama certified that "the government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding six-month period," and "has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future."

Congress has 45 days to consider Obama's decision before it takes effect. Lawmakers cannot block it unless both chambers approve a joint resolution.

Meanwhile, potential US investors are guarded over the prospect of normalized economic ties between the two nations.

The Vice President of the American Bankers Association said banks would remain cautious towards Cuba in the short term: "Banks are certainly watching for further developments but the Cuban government has a lot more steps to take until the industry can take action," Rob Rowe said.

Iran, Sudan and Syria remain on the US terror list.

jm/bw (Reuters, EFE)

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