MEXICO CITY — As Cuban diplomats gather in Washington on Friday for historic talks to restore relations with the United States, their diplomatic entourage may carry something even more tangible than political demands: bundles of cash.
The reason is that, as one of the few nations in the world on the American government’s list of countries that sponsor terrorism, Cuba cannot find a bank in the United States that will do business with it, State Department officials say.
Now, Cuba’s spot on the American list of states that sponsor terrorism is emerging as a major sticking point in the effort to restore diplomatic ties with the United States and reopen embassies that have been closed for nearly five decades.
On Friday, Cuban and American officials will meet in Washington for a second round of talks — the first were in Havana in January — aimed at carrying out the vow of President Obama and President Raúl Castro to restore diplomatic relations as a prelude to more normal ties.
But whether Cuba should be removed from the state terrorism list is a particularly nettlesome issue, with some Republicans openly opposing it, the Cubans demanding it, and the Obama administration struggling to explain how it will proceed.