Cuba to be removed from terror list

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US President Barack Obama has decided to lift the U.S. designation of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In a message to Congress on Tuesday, the White House said that the long-awaited decision effectively removes the principal impediment to establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, as pledged by Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro last December.

Congress has 45 days to consider Cuba's removal from the list before it becomes effective, but cannot interfere with Obama's decision without voting separate legislation, a measure that the White House has deemed unlikely.

At a news conference Saturday, Obama said that the majority of the American people, as well as a majority of Congress, approves of his opening to Cuba.

Cuba was first designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1982, at the height of the Cold War. Cuba's removal would leave only three countries on the list--Iran, Sudan and Syria.