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U.S. to keep Cuba on list of state sponsors of terror

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

The U.S. government has no plans to remove Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, U.S. government officials said on Wednesday.

Opponents of U.S. sanctions on the island's communist government have been lobbying hard for months to remove Cuba from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism as a gesture toward improved bilateral relations.

The Boston Globe reported in February that U.S. diplomats had concluded Cuba should be taken off the list.

Another news report a month later said Cuba's removal might be announced when the Country Report on Terrorism, also managed by the State Department, is issued.

The list of state sponsors was created in 1979 and includes only Cuba, Iran, Syria and Sudan. The Country Report is a totally separate, annual and country-by-country review of terror activities around the globe, including the four nations on the terror list.

There are no current efforts or plans to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors, said knowledgeable government officials who asked for anonymity in order to speak frankly and in detail about the often confusing issue.

Inclusion on the list blocks a nation's access to World Bank and other financing, and puts an international magnifying glass on all its international banking transactions.

The next version of the Country Report, expected to be made public in coming weeks, will certainly report that Cuba remains on the state sponsors' list, the officials told El Nuevo Herald.

But that does not rule out the possibility that at any time in the future the government will decide that Cuba should be removed from the state sponsors list, the officials added.

The State Department is required to publish the annual Country Report at the end of April, but it regularly misses the deadline. Last year, the report was made public in July.

The newspaper and blog The Hill in Washington, quoted a State Department spokesperson late Tuesday as saying that the Country Report will be made public in the latter half of May.

Cuba has been on the state sponsors list since 1982. Havana is on a separate U.S. government list, with Venezuela and others, of countries that are not “cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts.”

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