Cuba may be taken off America’s list of state sponsors of terrorism at any moment, ABC News has learned.
Sources familiar with the request tell ABC News that State Department is “way down the road” in its assessment of Cuba’s status on the terrorism list. The State Department has not sent the paperwork to the White House yet, but officials expect it at any time.
Roberta Jacobsen, assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs and the lead U.S. negotiator in Cuba talks, said recently the review of Cuba’s place on the list is “in advanced stages.”
Added to the terror list in 1982, Cuba is one of only four countries sharing that designation, including Iran, Sudan and Syria. To be on the list, it must be determined the country “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” according to the State Department’s website.
Cuba stands accused by the U.S. of providing support to terrorist organizations in Latin America, including the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. But the State Department admits those ties have “become more distant,” and last December President Obama announced the State Department would be reviewing Cuba’s placement on the list.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest hinted at the White House press briefing on Tuesday that a decision on the terrorism listing could come before President Obama leaves for the Summit of the Americas this week.
“The State Department is the first step in that process and, again, as the national security adviser — deputy national security adviser indicated today, we would anticipate some action from the State Department on that relatively soon,” Earnest said.
President Obama leaves for the summit on Wednesday, stopping first in Jamaica for a meeting with Caribbean nations.
The possibility Cuba could be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism comes after the historic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba that was announced in December. Cuba’s placement on the list has been a sticking point to moving diplomatic talks forward.
ABC News’ Justin Fishel contributed to this report.
News Channel 9, April 8, 2015