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US foe Cuba sends condolences for marathon attack

US foe Cuba sends condolences for marathon attack

April 17th, 2013 in News

HAVANA (AP) - Cuba on Tuesday condemned the deadly attack on the Boston marathon and reiterated its rejection of all forms of terrorism, yet another small expression of goodwill between the Cold War enemies.

Josefina Vidal, the director of the Foreign Ministry's North American Affairs Division, expressed "the most heartfelt condolences of the people and government of Cuba to the people and government of the United States, particularly those directly affected by this tragedy."

While the two countries have been at odds for half a century, Cuba has expressed solidarity in the past, most recently when a U.S. ambassador was killed in Benghazi, Libya. The attacks on Sept. 11 elicited a similar response, and Cuba offered to send doctors to the U.S. Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Vidal said Cuba delivered an official note to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy because the countries lack formal diplomatic relations.

She said that Cuba "rejects and condemns unequivocally all acts of terrorism, in any place, under any circumstance, and with whatever motivation."

Secretary of State John Kerry must make recommend by the end of April whether to keep Cuba on a controversial list of state sponsors of terrorism. Critics say the Caribbean island nation has no business being on the list alongside Iran, Syria and Sudan.

Among the measures Cuba must take to get off the list is to publicly condemn terrorism. Cuba is accused of harboring Colombian rebels and Basque militants, as well as several dozen U.S. fugitives who have lived here since the 1960s and "70s. But the island is currently playing host to peace talks between the Colombian rebels and that country's government, and ETA has called a permanent cease fire in Spain.

There have been several other quiet gestures of cooperation and goodwill recently.

Last week, Cuba turned over to U.S. authorities a Florida couple who had fled here after allegedly kidnapping their own children from the custody of the boys' grandparents. Havana and Washington lack an extradition treaty, but officials on both sides were full of praise for each other's cooperation and professionalism throughout the incident.

On Friday, a U.S. federal judge granted convicted Cuban intelligence agent Rene Gonzalez leave to travel to Havana for his father's funeral. Gonzalez served 13 years in jail before being released on supervised parole in 2011.

Four other agents remain behind bars. Cuba has made clear it hopes to trade them for a U.S. government subcontractor serving a 15-year term after he was caught bringing communications equipment onto the island illegally, purportedly to help Cuba's small Jewish community get better Internet access.