The Caribbean island nation was placed on the list in 1982 when it was aiding rebel movements in Africa and Latin America, but Havana gave up supporting foreign insurgencies years ago. Its inclusion on the list continued to limit its access to international banking and overseas financial markets.
“The Cuban government recognises the fair decision made by the president of the United States to eliminate Cuba from a list that it never should have been included on,” Josefina Vidal, the Cuban foreign ministry’s chief of US affairs, said in a statement.
In a report to Congress, President Obama said 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 the president’s decision before it takes effect, but it cannot stop it unless both chambers approve a joint resolution, a move that is highly unlikely. But a broader US embargo on Cuba will remain in place because only Congress can end it.
‘Capitulating to dictators’
Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American and newly announced Republican presidential candidate, denounced it as a “terrible” decision, saying Cuba was helping North Korea evade sanctions and harbouring fugitives from American justice.
Republican Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, another Cuban-American, accused President Obama of “capitulating to dictators”.