FIRST TIME

U.S. Abstains for First Time on U.N. Cuba Embargo Vote

The U.S. on Wednesday for the first time in 25 years abstained in a U.N. General Assembly vote concerning the American embargo against Cuba. The resolution has received opposition votes from the U.S. each year in the past. Such resolutions, while non-binding, often still have political impact. Israel also abstained on Wednesday. "Abstaining on this resolution does not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government. We do not," Ambassador Samantha Power told the General Assembly. "We are profoundly concerned by the serious human rights violations that the Cuban government continues to commit with impunity against its own people." Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez described Powers' abstention on Wednesday as a "positive step for the future of improving relations between the United States and Cuba." The American relationship with the Communist-run country only began to defrost in 2014 after President Obama began making strides to repair the connection. Commercial flights to Cuba from the U.S. began this year. The full 50-year embargo, however, cannot be lifted until the U.S. Congress votes in favor of the move.