US outgoing administration puts Cuba back on terrorism sponsor list

The US State Department on Monday designated Cuba as a "state sponsor of terrorism," reversing an Obama-era decision just nine days before US President Donald Trump leaves office, dpa reported.

In a statement, the department said Cuba had earned the designation "for repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbor to terrorists." The step marks the latest action by the outgoing administration to lock in policies before Trump's term ends.

In 2015, the administration of Barack Obama removed Cuba from the terrorism list, as Obama sought to build ties with the country after decades of animosity.

Relations soured again during Trump's presidency, as the US rolled back most of the easing of the economic embargo against the Caribbean state. The Trump administration's move will hamper any efforts by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden to resume a path towards rapprochement with Havana. Other countries on the State Department's terrorism list include Iran, North Korea and Syria.

As a result of the designation, people and countries engaging in certain trade with Cuba will be penalized, according to the department. US foreign assistance will be restricted, and defence exports and sales will be banned.

Washington has accused the government in Havana of oppressing its own people, and of aiding and abetting Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro, considered illegitimate by the US.

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