The United States on Friday removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, marking a crucial turning point in Cold War diplomacy that has stifled political relations between the two countries.
The removal follows Obama's April visit to the Summit of the Americas in Panama City -- the first meetings between the U.S. and Cuba in more than 50 years -- and a 45-day Congressional period on the country's potential removal.
President Ronald Reagan added Cuba to the State Department's blacklist in 1982, and while the removal is a sign of diplomatic progress, the summit did not impact the United States' economic embargo on the country, which has been in place since the 1960s.
The move "reflects our assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission," Jeff Rathke, the State Department spokesman, said in a statement reported by The New York Times, "While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba's policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation."
The lifting of Cuba from the blacklist may improve the international image of the nation, and speed-up progress toward economic relations.
The New York Times reports that "Cubans saw their nation's designation on the list…as a blemish to the country's image and a practical hindrance that hampered its ability to work with American banks."
And Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane said she thinks the removal will lead to "[A]merican businesses trying to flood into Cuba now, trying to get in on the ground floor," adding,"You'll see more Americans in Cuba, many more Cubans around the country."
Iran, Sudan and Syria are now the State Department's only remaining state sponsors of terrorism.