WASHINGTON, April 14 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama officially removed Cuba from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, the White House announced on Tuesday.
The move comes less than a week after the conclusion of a State Department review that recommended the Caribbean nation be taken off the list, which also features Iran, Syria and Sudan.
Obama submitted a document to Congress that read:
"I hereby certify, with respect to the rescission of the determination of March 1, 1982, regarding Cuba that: (i) the Government of Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period; and (ii) the Government of Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future."
"After 50 years of a policy that had not changed on the part of the United States, it was my belief that it was time to try something new," NPR quoted Obama as saying, following a meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama on Sunday.
Castro echoed that sentiment, saying the "Cold War has been over for a long time," and that he was "not interested in having battles that frankly started before [he] was born."
Tuesday's announcement is seen as an integral step toward efforts to normalize relations between the two nations.
In December Obama said Cuba and the United States were ending half a century of hostilities. During his State of the Union address in January, he called on Congress to remove the embargo against Cuba.
A bill to do so was submitted by Democratic and Republican senators in February, but several Republican lawmakers have condemned Obama's diplomatic efforts toward Cuba, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who characterized them as "unilateral concessions ... in exchange for nothing."
The president's recommendation faces a 45-day review in Congress before going into effect.