- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 30, 2008

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) | U.N. member states voted in record numbers Wednesday to urge the United States to lift its 46-year-old economic embargo against Cuba, a nonbinding measure adopted for the 17th straight year.

The General Assembly passed a resolution titled “necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba” with 185 votes in favor, three against and two abstentions.

The resolution will have no impact on President Bush, who in an Oct. 10 speech called Cuba a “dungeon” and vowed not to lift the embargo until Havana released political prisoners.

“We will change our policy when the people running Cuba free people of conscience from the prisons. But until then, we won’t change,” he said in Florida, home to many Cuban exiles who oppose the island’s communist government.

Neither candidate in Tuesday’s U.S. presidential election is expected to abolish the embargo. Republican Sen. John McCain supports keeping it, and Democrat Sen. Barack Obama has backed loosening some parts of it.

Voting with the United States against the U.N. resolution were Israel and the Pacific island state of Palau. Micronesia and the Marshall Islands abstained.

The General Assembly has told the United States to lift the embargo every year since 1992. Last year’s resolution was approved by 184-4, with one abstention.

This year’s vote was the first since longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro handed over to his brother, Raul, in February. The shift has not swayed the Bush administration, which has tightened the embargo during its term of office, slapping restrictions on visits to Cuba and remittances to families.

The financial and trade embargo, which Cuba calls an “economic blockade,” was imposed by President Kennedy in response to Cuba’s alignment with the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

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