U.S. Senator Robert Menendez wants to keep Cuba on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
An influential Democratic senator is lobbying to keep Cuba on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
In letters released Thursday, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry and FBI director James Comey asking that the issue of U.S. fugitives in Cuba be raised in upcoming talks with Cuban officials.
Menendez suggested in his letter that the Cuban government has a history of providing sanctuary to fugitives from the U.S. justice system.
Cuba has similarly accused the U.S. of protecting right-wing terrorists who have conspired against Cuba, the most prominent case being that of Luis Posada Carriles, a convicted terrorist.
Menendez, who is of Cuban descent, is the top Democrat on the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has gone on the record opposing President Barack Obama’s moves toward normalizing relations with Havana. In his letters, he has asked that Cuba remain on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Removing Cuba from this list is a high priority for Havana. A senior Cuban official said Wednesday that the Cuban government 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 convincingly.
Congressional and diplomatic sources have said they expect the Obama administration to do so within the next month.
Earlier this month, a congressional delegation including top Democrat Representative Nancy Pelosi traveled to Cuba to discuss the normalization of relations. Meanwhile, other U.S. Senators have called for the economic blockade against Cuba to be lifted.