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Rhodes Dodges on Progress with Fugitives in Cuba

White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes did not say if Cuba had many any concessions regarding fugitives currently hiding in the country when he was asked on Wednesday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports”

When “any give at all” from Cuba regarding fugitives from American justice hiding in Cuba such as Joanne Chesimard, Rhodes responded, “this is a question of whether or not Cuba is a state sponsor of terrorism, and they’re not. There are countries that have fugitives all around the world, who are not on the terrorism list. There are countries in Europe where there are fugitives that the United States is interested in pursuing those fugitives. We’re not putting them on a list of state sponsors of terror. We’re focus on Al Qaeda. We’re focused on ISIL, frankly the one terrorist relationship that been highlighted in the past, for instance, was Cuba’s relationship with the FARC in Colombia, they’re now hosting peace talks with the Colombian government in Havana. So, on the facts, we believe it’s very clear that Cuba is not a state sponsor of terrorism. The other thing I’d say is, 97% of the Cuban people want normalization with the United States. In every survey we’ve seen since the president’s announcement in December, the American people want to pursue this normalization with Cuba. The effect of the additional financial activity, and outreach, and engagement that will come to the Cuban people from this de-listing of Cuba will be good for Cubans, and will help empower Cubans, and give them access to greater resources and information. So, what I’d say to Senator Rubio is, if we want to have a policy that helps the Cuban people, that helps empower the Cuban people, we need to deepen our own engagement with the Cuban people, and we need to listen to the 97% of Cubans who have made clear that they want to see this normalization go forward.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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