UNITED NATIONS - The UN general assembly has, by a thumping majority, condemned the US economic embargo against Cuba, adding pressure on the Obama administration to abandon its 47-year-old policy. The 192-member assembly Wednesday voted 187-3 in opposition to the embargo, with only Israel and the Pacific island nation of Palau siding with the US, as they did last year. Last years vote was 185-3, which means the resolution polled two more votes. The outcome added extra resonance this year because of the slight thaw in Washington-Havana relations. Cubas foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, told the meeting in New York that the embargo had cost the island tens of billions of dollars and denied medical care to children. The blockade is an uncultured act of arrogance. He lamented that the new US president had failed to end an ethically unacceptable hangover from the cold war. President Obama has a historical opportunity to lead a change of policy toward Cuba. The White House has made cautious overtures to Raul Castros government - such as easing travel restrictions for Cuban Americans - but has maintained crippling trade and financial controls first imposed by the Kennedy administration in 1962. Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, said Rodriguezs statements were hostile and that the Obama administration wanted to engage with Havana and write a new chapter to this old story. The embargo bans Cuban imports, greatly restricts US exports and deters foreign firms from doing business with the island, 90 miles off Florida. As a senator, Obama opposed the embargo but hardened his position when running for president, not least because he needed the votes of anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Florida. In office, he has let Congress take the lead in easing restrictions while saying the embargo will remain until Havana releases political prisoners and improves human rights. The US realises that the embargo is an outmoded policy but Obama is not ready to do the hard work required to remove it entirely, which means that US policy will continue to consist of piecemeal changes, said Dan Erikson, author of The Cuba Wars and an analyst at the Inter-American Dialogue thinktank. Even US allies such as Britain, Australia and Colombia side against the superpower, saying its Cuba policy is a cold war anachronism given US trade with undemocratic states such as China and Vietnam. One European ambassador called the embargo demented.