Cuba's new president makes first trip to old Cold War foe United States

HAVANA, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Cuba's new president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, arrived in New York on Sunday for his first trip to the United States, where he will denounce the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on his country at the U.N. General Assembly, state-run media reported.

Tensions have heightened between the Cold War foes after U.S. President Donald Trump tightened the embargo last year following the resumption of diplomatic relations under his predecessor, Barack Obama. Washington also alleged a series of health attacks had taken place on U.S. diplomats in Havana.

The Cuban government has said no attacks occurred and that the Trump administration was using whatever did occur - if indeed anything did - as a pretext to escalate its hostile stance on the Communist-run island.

Diaz-Canel, who took over the presidency from his mentor, Raul Castro, in April, will address the UNGA Nelson Mandela Peace Summit on Monday and the General Assembly on Wednesday, according to state-run outlet Cubadebate.

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At that session, Cuba will present for the 27th year running a resolution calling for the end of the U.S. trade embargo on the island nation.

"We bring the voice of Cuba that above all comes to denounce the abnormal policy of the blockade, a policy that has already failed, that will continue to fail, and that is the longest blockade in the history of humanity," Diaz-Canel said on arrival, according to the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

Diaz-Canel's statements on the United States, as on other political matters, have so far largely echoed those of his predecessor, who remains head of the Communist Party until 2021.

The non-binding U.N. resolution urges the United States to repeal the embargo on Cuba as soon as possible. Only the U.S. Congress can lift the full embargo, put in place more than 50 years ago.

US embassy in Cuba
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US embassy in Cuba
People walk past the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A tour bus of Transgaviota drives past the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba June 13, 2017. Picture taken June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer
An exterior view of the U.S. Embassy is seen in Havana, Cuba, June 19, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People wait in line to enter the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, April 20, 2017. Picture taken April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
People wait to enter the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, April 20, 2017. Picture taken April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
A vintage car passes by in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Cuban flags fly near U.S flag beside the U.S embassy in Havana December 31, 2015. REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa
A man lowers the Cuban flag while standing amidst flagposts installed outside the U.S. embassy in Havana, December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Flagposts installed outside the U.S. embassy cast their shadows on the sidewalk of the seafront Malecon in Havana, December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Tourists pass by the U.S. Embassy in Havana, February 18, 2016. Picture taken February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Competitors run past the U.S. embassy during the Marabana marathon in Havana, November 15, 2015. In the year since detente, more Americans are visiting Cuba, and more Cubans are trying to reach the U.S., concerned that special treatment for Cubans may end. While foreigners are in a frenzy, most Cubans report little change. Although they have guaranteed education and healthcare and minimal fear of violent crime, their wages are poor and economic opportunities limited. Picture taken November 15, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
The Cuban flag flies at half staff in recognition of the death of Fidel Castro, the long time leader of Cuba, at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, U.S., November 28, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Through the week, Diaz-Canel will meet with other foreign leaders, as well as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. supporters of engagement with Cuba and members of the Cuban-American community, Cubadebate said. He will also speak on Wednesday night at New York's historic Riverside Church.

Diaz-Canel made his first trip abroad as president to Cuba's main ally, Venezuela, in May. 

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