US keeps Syria on terrorism blacklist
Report by AFP - Thursday, 05 August 2010:
US declines to put NKorea back on terrorism blacklist
The Obama administration declined Thursday to put North Korea back on a blacklist of countries supporting terrorism despite pressure from lawmakers to do so.
In its report for 2009, the State Department kept the same countries on the list as it did in 2008 -- Iran, Sudan, Cuba and Syria -- with Iran again listed as the "most active state sponsor of terrorism."
Former US president George W. Bush de-listed North Korea in 2008 after it vowed to end its nuclear program, agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and pledged to disable its nuclear plants.
The Obama administration has kept it off the list again after citing narrow legal definition for what constitutes support for terrorism.
In June 2009, 16 US Republican Senators urged President Barack Obama's administration to place the communist regime back on the US blacklist.
The North conducted its second nuclear test the previous month and defied international criticism by firing a volley of short-range missiles and threatening to attack the capitalist South.
Though the report does not cover events this year, Republican senators renewed their call for North Korea to be listed again after South Korea and the United States blamed it for sinking a South Korean warship in March.
In keeping four countries on the blacklist, the Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 said "Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism".
"Iran?s financial, material, and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf and undermined the growth of democracy," it said.
The US accuses Iran of actively supporting groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan, Shiite groups in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories.
On Sudan, the report said the government was cooperating with US counter-terrorism efforts, but said "Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist elements as well as elements of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and HAMAS, remained in Sudan in 2009."
The report said the United States disagrees with Syria's support for what it calls national liberation movements, groups Washington considers are terrorist.
"Syria continued to provide safe-haven as well as political and other support to a number of designated Palestinian terrorist groups, including HAMAS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)," the report.
The report complained that Cuba still gives safe haven and ideological support for three terrorist organizations.
"The Government of Cuba has long assisted members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN), and Spain?s Basque Homeland and Freedom Organization (ETA), some having arrived in Cuba in connection with peace negotiations with the governments of Colombia and Spain," it said.