By Marc Frank
October 13, 2001
HAVANA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - The United States and Britain may be leading the international coalition against terrorism, but they disagree over Washington's decision to include Cuba on a list of terrorist states, a senior British official said on Saturday.
"We are not in agreement with the U.S. view that Cuba sponsors terrorism," Energy Minister Brian Wilson, a regular envoy from London to Cuba in recent years, said at a Havana news conference.
The U.S. State Department put Cuba alongside six other alleged "rogue" nations -- Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria -- on a list of states sponsoring terrorism mainly because Basque ETA rebels and U.S. fugitives have found refuge on the Communist-run island.
Cuban President Fidel Castro has rejected that characterization, accusing the United States in turn of having supported terrorism against Cuba since the 1959 revolution.
"Our government differs from the United States on a number of issues when it comes to Cuba," Wilson said, referring to British opposition to four decades of U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba.
Before heading to Venezuela on Saturday after three days in Cuba, Wilson also praised the Caribbean island's response to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and suburban Washington.
"Cuba condemned terrorism and immediately offered the United States the use of its airports and medical assistance," Wilson said. Havana received no public response to either offer.
The Castro government often evokes the threat of a U.S. intervention in Cuba, though the British minister characterized as "absurd" the fears of some Cubans that their country might become a target of the U.S.-led international war against terrorism.
Castro has condemned terrorism over the last month, but has just as vociferously criticized the U.S.-led bombing of Afghanistan and threats against other governments harboring or supporting terrorists.
U.S. and British aircraft began bombing Afghanistan last Sunday in response to the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington that killed some 5,400 people. Both nations have described the campaign against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban as the first phase in a broader war against global terrorism.
"All this war hysteria, all this invention of a state of war has the clear aim of crushing and neutralizing the movement of the people," Castro said in a five-hour speech on Friday before a closed-door congress of left-wing Latin American journalists.
Infört på ELAK 2001-11-12 från
Center for International Policy's Cuba Project
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