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Cuban Foreign Minister Speaks Out Against US Trade Embargo

Cuba's foreign minister has spoken out against the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, as the United Nations prepares for its yearly vote on whether the United States should revoke it.

Felipe Perez Roque told reporters in Havana Tuesday that the embargo has cost Cuba at least $89 billion since it began in 1962, three years after Fidel Castro installed his communist regime.

Roque said in the past year alone, the embargo has cost the island nation $3 billion in extra trade and financial costs, as it must import items and services from other countries that would be cheaper coming from the United States.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on Monday defended the embargo, saying it has been successful in denying resources to the Castro government. He said U.S. policy will not change until Cuba's regime does.

The United Nations General Assembly takes its annual vote in October on support for the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. For the past 15 years, the body has recommended the United States lift the embargo. Last year only four countries voted in support of it, with 183 countries voting against. There was one abstention.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.