By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) – Cuba reiterated Monday its "strong rejection" of being placed on a list of non-cooperators with US counter-terrorism efforts.
The counter-terror blacklist made public by Washington on May 13 is "a unilateral and arbitrary listing without any base, authority or international support whatsoever which, as it is known, only aids to the intentions to defame and pressure countries refusing to bend to the will of the US government in their sovereign decision," the Caribbean nation's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The US State Department justified the decision by saying: "Cuba’s refusal to productively engage with the Colombian government demonstrates that it is not cooperating with US work to support Colombia’s efforts to secure a just and lasting peace, security, and opportunity for its people."
"As it is widely known, the delegation to the peace talks of the National Liberation Army (ELN) of Colombia is in Cuba because Ecuador suddenly renounced to continue being the venue of such talks and, at the request of the Colombian government and the ELN, the venue for the peace process was transferred to Havana in May 2018," the ministry responded to the claim.
Saying the peace talks stopped after the bombing of the Police Cadet Academy in Bogota in 2019, Cuba blamed Colombia for ignoring the Protocol in Case of Rupture and violating the commitments.
The Protocol in Case of Rupture, which was signed by the government of Colombia, the ELN and the guarantor countries in 2016, guarantees the safe return of the guerrilla delegation to Colombia in case talks stop.
"It is due to the non-implementation of this Protocol that the members of the ELN delegation to the peace talks are still in Cuba," the ministry said.
"The Cuban government has stated and it continues to state today that, based on the agreed documents, the protocol should be implemented," it added.
Cuba returned to the list for the first time since 2015.
The counter-terrorism blacklist prohibits the sale of arms. It also includes Venezuela, Iran, Syria and North Korea.