UN General Assembly urges US to end embargo against Cuba

.UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The General Assembly voted for the 16th straight year Tuesday to urge the United States to end its trade embargo against Cuba, whose foreign minister accused the United States of stepping up its “brutal economic war” to new heights.

The 192-member world body approved a resolution calling for the 46-year-old U.S. economic and commercial embargo against Cuba to be repealed as soon as possible.

“The blockade had never been enforced with such viciousness as over the last year,” Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque told the assembly, accusing President George W. Bush’s administration of adopting “new measures bordering on madness and fanaticism” that have hurt Cuba and interfered in its relations with at least 30 countries.

Delegates in the General Assembly chamber burst into applause when the vote in favor of the resolution flashed on the screen – 184 to four with one abstention. That was a one-vote improvement over last year.

The vote came less than a week after Bush delivered his first major address on Cuban policy in four years, attacking the communist government and challenging the international community to help the island shed Fidel Castro’s rule.

The United States has no diplomatic relations with Cuba, lists the country as a state sponsor of terror and has long sought to isolate it through travel restrictions and a trade embargo. This year, it stepped up enforcement of financial sanctions.

Castro, 81, temporarily ceded power to his brother Raúl in July 2006 after undergoing intestinal surgery, and has not been seen in public for more than a year.