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Cuba wants off U.S. terrorism list before restoring normal ties
BY DANIEL TROTTA
HAVANA Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:22pm EST

(Reuters) – Cuba will tell the United States in face-to-face talks this
week it wants to be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of
terrorism before restoring diplomatic relations, a senior foreign
ministry official said on Tuesday.

The two adversaries will meet in Havana on Wednesday and Thursday in an
attempt to restore ties that the United States severed in 1961.

They are the first talks since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban
President announced on Dec. 17 they would resume diplomatic
ties and swap prisoners in a historic shift after five decades of
hostilities.

The Cuban official said it was “unfair” to put Cuba on the U.S. State
Department’s list, which also includes Iran, Syria and Sudan.

While saying removal from the list was not necessarily a condition for
restoring ties, the official said the Cubans would press the issue with
the U.S. delegation.

“We cannot conceive of re-establishing diplomatic relations while Cuba
continues to be included on the list,” the senior official told
reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It doesn’t make any
sense that we re-establish diplomatic relations and Cuba continues (on
the list).”

The designation comes with economic sanctions against the countries and
can result in fines for companies that do business with them, such as
the record $8.9 billion penalty that French bank BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA)
paid last year.

Obama said in his Dec. 17 announcement that the United States would
review Cuba’s designation, and a senior State Department official told
reporters on Monday the United States would move quickly and
aggressively to remove Cuba from the list.

“We welcome the instructions to review the list but we don’t know what
is going to happen,” the Cuban official said on Tuesday.

In its latest annual “Country Reports on Terrorism,” the State
Department cited Cuba’s support for the Basque separatist group ETA and
Colombia’s left-wing FARC guerrillas.

But ETA, severely weakened by Spanish and French , called a
ceasefire in 2011 and has pledged to disarm, and the FARC has been in
peace talks with the Colombian government for the past two years, with
Cuba as host.

“There was no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or
paramilitary training to terrorist groups,” the report said, and Obama
said the United States was focused on groups such as al Qaeda and the
Islamic State.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Kieran Murray and Lisa Shumaker)

Source: Cuba wants off U.S. terrorism list before restoring normal ties
| Reuters –
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/21/us-cuba-usa-idUSKBN0KU02L20150121

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