UNITED NATIONS - Repeating an annual ritual, the UN General Assembly called on Tuesday for the United States to lift its trade embargo against Cuba, whose foreign minister said the blockade against the communist-run island was tantamount to "genocide."

For the 21st year, the assembly's vote was overwhelming, with 188 nations - including most of Washington's closest allies - supporting the embargo resolution, a result virtually unchanged from last year.

Israel, heavily dependent on US backing in the Middle East, and the tiny Pacific state of Palau were the only two countries that supported the United States in opposing the non-binding resolution in the 193-nation assembly. The Pacific states of the Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained.

President Barack Obama further loosened curbs last year on US travel and remittances to Cuba. He had said he was ready to change Cuba policy but was still waiting for signals from Havana, such as the release of political prisoners and guarantees of basic human rights.

Havana's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez told the assembly that Cuba had high hopes for Obama when he was first elected in 2008 and welcomed his calls for change. But he said the result had been disappointing. "The reality is that the last four years have been characterized by the persistent tightening of...the embargo," he said.

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