Cuba demands removal from US terrorism blacklist

Blacklisted countries are ineligible for US economic aid, trade agreements.

Havana: Cuba has strongly objected to its inclusion on a US terrorism blacklist and demanded its immediate removal, calling the annually updated list one of the most "irrational" aspects of US policy toward Cuba.

"We categorically reject the (US) State Department`s decision to once again include Cuba in its list of state sponsors of international terrorism, and we demand our country be immediately excluded" from the list, said Josefina Vidal, Cuba`s Foreign Ministry director for North America.

Issued yesterday, the list included in the State Department`s Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 said Cuba "has long assisted" members of Colombia`s leftist guerrilla groups and Spain`s separatist organisation ETA, both of which are US-designated terror groups.

The report also criticised Cuba`s allies in Latin America, including Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua for lending support to the same rebel groups.

By including Cuba on the blacklist, "the United States raises doubts about its commitment to fighting international terrorism and maintains one of the most irrational aspects of its hostile policy toward Cuba," Vidal said on the website.

Blacklisted countries are ineligible for US economic aid, trade preferences or trade agreements.

US President Barack Obama`s administration has touted its policy of promoting dialogue with adversaries. Last year, it lifted travel and money transfer restrictions on Cuban-Americans with relatives in the Caribbean nation.

But the administration has said it would not seek for now to end the decades-long economic embargo on Cuba unless President Raul Castro shows progress on human rights.


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