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U.S. appears set to deem Cuba not cooperating fully against terrorism-document -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO A car that was used to tour touristic cities passes the U.S. Embassy, Havana (Cuba), November 10, 2021. This photo was taken November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

By Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The Biden administration appeared to be ready to renew its assessment of Cuba as one of a few countries that “not cooperate fully” with the United States during the war on terrorism. According to a government document.

Formal publication of the decision was scheduled for Friday, but Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, apparently responding to a draft notice in the Federal Register signed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, condemned it as “one more lie” coming from Washington.

This follows the Biden administration’s announcement on Monday of a partial rollback of Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to the Communist-ruled island, moves that Havana has said do not go far enough.

Tensions have risen over signals that Cuba – along with Nicaragua and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government – could be excluded from the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas next month. There is a risk that President Joe Biden will be embarrassed by an increasing number of leaders, such as Andres Manuel Lopez Ombrador, the Mexican president.

“I hereby determine and certify to the Congress that the following countries are not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts,” Blinken wrote, listing Cuba along with Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.

The May 11-dated notice was labeled a “public inspection document,” making it available for public comment.

A State Department spokesperson did not respond to Reuters’ question whether it would be amended or issued on Friday as written.

When asked to elaborate on the U.S. decision regarding Cuba, the spokesperson stated that “we conduct a review of the overall cooperation of a country in our efforts to combat terrorism. We take into consideration our counterterrorism goals with this country, and an honest assessment of its capabilities.”

The draft assessment is almost identical to the one issued by the Biden administration a year ago, which stuck with the Trump administration’s determination.

“The United States again maintains the slander of saying that Cuba doesn’t cooperate sufficiently in the fight against terrorism,” Rodriguez said on Twitter (NYSE:), calling it a “pretext to continue an unceasing economic war universally repudiated.”

Possibly hindering U.S.-Cuban engagement has been a diplomatic chill that has mostly continued since Biden took over in January 2020 from Donald Trump, who reversed much of former President Barack Obama’s historic rapprochement with Havana. Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president, responded with sanctions over Havana’s crackdown on street protests last July.

Trump made Cuba the state sponsor of terrorist acts shortly before his departure. Critics called that decision unjustified and aimed at complicating Biden’s approach to Cuba. According to his administration, the decision is currently under review.

According to the State spokesperson, assessment of insufficient cooperatio was done under separate legislation from that for terrorism-sponsor identification.