Cuban President Raul Castro at a UN summit on Saturday said that the 55-year ongoing US trade embargo has a dramatic impact on the country’s economic development.
Castro, in his first visit to the UN, acknowledged the “major progress” on the diplomatic relations with the US following the re-establishment of diplomatic relations on July 20, however, said that the US trade embargo is the "main obstacle" for his country's economic development.
By re-opening their embassies in July, after a half-century estrangement, the United States and Cuba marked a new era in their diplomatic ties.
In 1961, US-Cuba relations were severed following efforts of the US to topple the communist Cuban regime. Since then, the US has imposed a set of restrictions and sanctions on Cuba, claiming to force the communist government to enforce democracy and improve human rights in the country.
Raul Castro urged lifting these sanctions to achieve a normalisation process.
Although this month,the Obama administration announced regulations to ease restrictions, lifting the full embargo is bound to the US Congress, which is dominated by Republicans mostly opposing the recent reapprochment.
Regarding the embargo, Cuba estimates $121 billion damage to the country's economy in over 50 years, Castro said that "such policy is rejected by 188 United Nations members states that demand its removal."
A UN General Assembly resolution condemned the US embargo for more than two decades. Next month, the assembly is set to discuss the renewal of the resolution which the US and Israel have always voted against.
Castro is due to speak again on Monday, on the 70th annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly.