Following a promise made by U.S. President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro late last year to normalize relations, Obama has announced plans to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Congress has 45 days consider Obama’s decision but cannot oppose the move without voting on a separate piece of legislation—a move the White House has called unlikely.
The announcement came just days after the historic meeting of the two leaders at the Summit of the Americas in Panama. In a news conference following the summit, Obama cited opinion polls indicating the majority of Americans support improving relations with their Caribbean neighbor.
Cuba’s designation as a state that sponsors terrorism has been the key obstacle to establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.
However, according to Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, who led the negotiations between the United States and Cuba, “The process the president sought to review the state sponsor of terrorism List is independent from the negotiations currently underway to reestablish diplomatic relations and open embassies.
“We will continue talking about what we need to have an embassy. We hope the Cubans will continue to have those discussions with us to ensure that we can get what we need to have an embassy that operates like embassies do in other countries”