Friday, February 27, 2015

Senior U.S. lawmaker makes case against removing Cuba from terror list

Senior U.S. lawmaker makes case against removing Cuba from terror list
WASHINGTON Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:15am EST

(Reuters) - A senior U.S. lawmaker is pressing his case against any
Obama administration plan to remove Cuba from the U.S. list of state
sponsors of terrorism, saying the communist-ruled island is harboring
dozens of U.S. fugitives.

In letters released on Thursday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez wrote
about the fugitives to Secretary of State John Kerry and FBI director
James Comey, asking that the issue be raised in upcoming talks with
Cuban officials and contending that Havana should remain on the list.

"It is essential to recognize that the Castro regime has a long track
record of providing sanctuary to terrorists and harboring U.S. fugitives
who have murdered American citizens, while undermining international
security," Menendez wrote to Kerry.

Menendez asked Comey to provide a full list of fugitives from the U.S.
justice system who are in Cuba and information about their status.

Menendez, a Cuban-American who is the top Democrat on the influential
Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has spoken out repeatedly against
President Barack Obama's moves toward normalizing relations with Havana.

Cuban officials have been pushing for Washington to quickly remove their
country from the list, which among other things prevents international
banks from doing business with Havana. Congressional and diplomatic
sources have said they expect the Obama administration to do so within
the next month.

A senior Cuban official said on Wednesday Havana would agree to restore
diplomatic relations with the United States in time for the April Summit
of the Americas if Washington removes Havana from the list quickly and

The official spoke to reporters ahead of a second round of negotiations
between the longtime adversaries in Washington on Friday, following
Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro's agreement on Dec. 17 to exchange
prisoners and restore diplomatic ties for the first time in more than
half a century.

One of the U.S. fugitives in Cuba is Joanne Chesimard, who was convicted
of killing a state trooper in New Jersey, Menendez's home state.

Source: Senior U.S. lawmaker makes case against removing Cuba from
terror list | Reuters -

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