WASHINGTON -- The United States left North Korea off its latest list of state sponsors of terrorism Wednesday after saying earlier it could use a redesignation to bring pressure on the regime.

The State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2016 said the U.S. removed North Korea from the list in 2008 based on certification that the country had not supported international terrorism in the preceding six-month period and assurances it would not support terrorist acts in the future.

The North had been put on the list in 1988 for an airliner bombing that killed all 115 people aboard. In 2008, the designation was rescinded in exchange for progress in denuclearization talks.

Calls to put North Korea back on the list gained traction earlier this year in the wake of the Feb. 13 killing in Malaysia of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Pyongyang is widely believed to be behind the slaying, but it has denied involvement.

In April, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Washington is reviewing the possibility of relisting the North to pressure it into talks aimed at its denuclearization. When there were calls to redesignate it for the 2014 cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, the State Department said it would only be symbolic without big practical effects.

State sponsors of terrorism face restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance, a ban on defense exports and sales, and financial and other sanctions.

Still, the U.S. redesignated North Korea in May as a country "not cooperating fully" with U.S. counterterrorism efforts, the report said.

"In making this annual determination, the Department of State reviewed the DPRK's overall level of cooperation with U.S. efforts to counterterrorism, taking into account U.S. counterterrorism objectives with the DPRK and a realistic assessment of DPRK capabilities," it said. DPRK is the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The report also noted the North's failure to "demonstrate meaningful progress in strengthening" its infrastructure for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. It recalled that the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated the North as a jurisdiction of "primary money laundering concern" in June 2016 and announced measures to further protect the U.S. financial system from abuse.

For the second year in a row, the report listed Iran, Syria and Sudan as the only three state sponsors of terrorism.

Source: Yonhap News Agency