U.S. to vote against U.N. resolution calling for end to Cuba embargo

FILE PHOTO - A view of the U.S. and Cuban flags prior to the signing of agreements between the Port of Cleveland and the Cuban Maritime authorities in Havana, Cuba, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States will vote against a U.N. General Assembly resolution on Wednesday calling for the lifting of the decades-old U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, reversing an abstention by Washington last year.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will vote against the resolution, introduced annually by Havana for 26 years, to underscore President Donald Trump’s new Cuba policy, which puts greater emphasis on advancing human rights and democracy, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday.

The United States consistently voted against such resolutions for 24 years but abstained for the first time in 2016 as Washington and Havana forged a closer relationship and reopened embassies in both countries in 2015.

But tensions have flared recently between the two former Cold War foes. Trump said earlier this month he believed Havana was responsible for a series of alleged incidents that Washington says harmed 24 of its diplomats.

Cuban officials investigating the U.S. complaints said last week talk of acoustic strikes was “science fiction.”

The resolution on Wednesday is non-binding but can carry political weight. Only the U.S. Congress can lift the full embargo, put in place more than 50 years ago.

The Cuban delegation to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last year, the resolution was adopted by the 193-member General Assembly with 191 votes in favor. Israel joined its ally the United States in abstaining.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, led a group of 10 senators urging Trump on Tuesday to direct the U.S. delegation to once more abstain from voting.

Reporting by David Alexander and Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Alistair Bell