Brazil for first time votes against U.N. call for end to U.S. embargo on Cuba
By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Brazil voted for the first time with the United States on Thursday against an annual United Nations resolution condemning and calling for an end to Washington's economic embargo on Communist-ruled Cuba, while Colombia and Ukraine abstained. The 193-member General Assembly still overwhelmingly adopted the resolution for the 28th year with 187 votes in favour. U.S.
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Brazil voted for the first time with the United States on Thursday against an annual United Nations resolution condemning and calling for an end to Washington's economic embargo on Communist-ruled Cuba, while Colombia and Ukraine abstained.
The 193-member General Assembly still overwhelmingly adopted the resolution for the 28th year with 187 votes in favour. U.S. ally Israel also voted no and Moldova did not vote. The U.N. vote can carry political weight, but only the U.S. Congress can lift the more than 50-year-old embargo.
The policy shift by Brazil represents the latest attempt by President Jair Bolsonaro to draw closer to U.S. President Donald Trump since taking office in January but runs against the interest of some major Brazilian firms.
Brazil's Souza Cruz Ltda, owned by British American Tobacco PLC
Brazilian foreign minister Ernesto Araujo said Brazil voted against Cuba because it was a communist state that had not stopped exporting revolution and was propping up Venezuela's government, which he called "the worst dictatorship in the history of the continent."
"It's time to stop flattering Cuba. The influence Cuba has over developing countries in the U.N. system is shameful and should be broken," Araujo said on Twitter.
Colombia's abstention follows a chill in its relations with Cuba.
Cuba once hosted peace talks between Colombia and its National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group, but Havana's refusal to extradite three guerrilla commanders after negotiations broke down has led to repeated criticism from the government of President Ivan Duque.
Colombia abstained from the vote because of Cuba's "hostile attitude" toward its extradition requests for the "confessed terrorists" and its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The United States consistently voted against the U.N. resolutions for 24 years but abstained for the first time in 2016 under former President Barack Obama, as Washington and Havana forged a closer relationship.
Relations have deteriorated sharply under Trump, returning to Cold War characterizations of Cuba and tightening trade and travel restrictions that had been eased by Obama.
"The United States is not responsible for the Cuban regime's endless abuses of its people," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft told the General Assembly ahead of the vote.
"It is our first responsibility as leaders to defend those without a voice, today most especially the people of Cuba. Shame be upon us if we refuse to raise our voices in defence of theirs," Craft said.
Last year the United States proposed eight amendments to the resolution to push Cuba to improve its human rights record, but all of the proposals failed.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez rejected U.S. criticism of Cuba's human rights record, accusing Washington of manipulating "human rights for political purposes and we reject double standards."
"The U.S. government does not have the slightest moral authority to criticize Cuba or any other country when it comes to human rights," he told the U.N. General Assembly, citing an opioid crisis, gun violence, poverty and unemployment in the United States.
(Additional reporting by Julia Cobb in Bogota, Lisandra Paraguassu and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.