21:21 GMT18 September 2020
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    US legislators claim that Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list lacs justification.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama’s decision to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) list lacs justification, US legislators said.

    "For Cuba to be removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, it must demonstrate changed behaviour through verifiable actions, not empty rhetoric," US Senator Robert Menendez said in a statement on Tuesday.

    "Cuba remains as repressive today as ever and is undeserving of this potential newfound designation," he added.

    Earlier on Tuesday, Obama notified the US Congress about his intention to revoke Cuba’s state sponsor of terrorism designation.

    Menendez argued that Obama’s decision sends the wrong message to other state sponsors of terrorism such as Iran and Sudan.

    Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said removing Cuba from the SST list would empower the Cuban government while leaving ordinary people oppressed.

    "[T]he Obama administration has indicated its intent to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terror list, but this is being done only for political reasons and not in accordance with the law," Ros-Lehtinen added.

    US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce noted that the White House took the "big step" without consulting Congress.

    "The Committee will be interested to hear from the White House how Cuba’s support for radical groups in the region, safe harbor for American fugitives — including one of the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ — and international weapons trafficking justifies today’s move," Royce said.

    Cuba was put on the SST list in 1982 for providing safe haven to members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty as well as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, according to the State Department.

    The Obama Administration announced its intention to normalize US-Cuba relations in December 2014. The US President said he wanted to re-open the US Embassy in Havana and to lift the trade and travel embargo on Cuba.

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    State Sponsors of Terrorism list, United States
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