US says Cuba still not cooperating fully against terrorism

By Matt Spetalnick and Dave Sherwood

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Biden administration on Tuesday once again listed Cuba among a group of countries that the United States says are “not cooperating fully” in its fight against terrorism, drawing a sharp rebuke from Havana.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a notice published in the U.S. Federal Register, named Cuba among five countries - along with Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Syria - that the United States says fall short of its expectations on the issue.

The State Department is required by law to provide this list annually to the U.S. Congress.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said on Twitter: “The mendacious accusations against Cuba regarding terrorism persist from Washington, an abominable crime that the U.S. has practiced without scruples and that it opportunistically uses as a tool of political coercion.”

The U.S. assessment is almost identical to those issued by President Joe Biden’s administration over the past two years, which stuck with the Trump administration’s determination.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for an explanation of the decision.

“I hereby determine and certify to the Congress that the following countries are not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts: Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), Iran, Syria, and Venezuela,” Blinken wrote.

The Biden administration last year partially rolled back some Trump-era restrictions on remittances and travel to the Communist-ruled island, measures that Havana said were insufficient.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump, a Republican, separately designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism before leaving office in January 2021, a measure distinct from the assessment of insufficient cooperation.

This was part of Trump’s reversal of rapprochement with Cuba initiated by his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president.

The Biden administration has said the state sponsor designation is still under review.

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; editing by Mark Heinrich)