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U.S. abstains from UN vote on Cuba embargo

U.S. abstains from UN vote on Cuba embargoThe U.S. has for the first time abstained from voting against an annual UN resolution calling for an end to its economic embargo against Cuba, BBC reported on Thursday.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the historic decision reflected the new policy of engagement over isolation. Diplomatic ties were restored last year but Republican-controlled Congress opposes lifting the longstanding embargo.

The vote passed overwhelmingly, with the support of 191 countries. Only Israel abstained alongside the US.

The UN General Assembly has voted to approve the resolution every year since 1992, and the U.S. has always strongly opposed it.

"After 55-plus years of pursuing the path of isolation, we are choosing to take the path of engagement," Power said.

She added, however, that the abstention did "not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government", including "serious human rights violations".

The Cuban government views the abstention by the US as a victory. While this vote doesn't have any weight in actually lifting the measure - that depends on the US Congress - it is important symbolically.
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