U.S. to Leave UN Body

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization logo is at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris France

Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization logo is at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris France. Francois Mori AP

The U.S.is pulling out of UNESCO.

"This is a loss for multilateralism", said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a statement. Washington intends to participate in the fulfillment by UNESCO of a number of its functions, including the protection of the world cultural heritage, the protection of press freedom, the promotion of scientific cooperation and the educational process.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects United States concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organisation, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO", she said in a statement.

The US stopped paying dues to the worldwide body in late 2011 after the agency voted to accept a Palestinian bid for full membership and now owes approximately $550 million, a State Department spokesperson said.

One of UNESCO's founding nations, the United States has had a rocky relationship with the Paris-based organization over the years.

In a statement, Bokova said that "despite the withholding of funding, since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful".

"This is another example of the Trump's administration's profound ambivalence and concern about the way the U.N.is structured and behaves, and it shows the administration's determination to separate itself from its predecessors", said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator and adviser in Republican and Democratic administrations.

And past year, Israel suspended cooperation with it after the agency adopted a controversial resolution which made no reference to Jewish ties to a key holy site in Jerusalem.

The withdraw becomes official on December 31, 2018, after which the United States will remain involved as a nonmember observer state.

Haley says the U.S.'s view from 1984 when President Ronald Reagan also withdrew from UNESCO holds true today: "U.S. taxpayers should no longer be on the hook to pay for policies that are hostile to our values and make a mockery of justice and common sense".

The third round saw the breakthrough of French candidate Audrey Azouley, who secured 18 out of 58 votes of the UNESCO Executive Board, sharing top spot with Qatari candidate Hammad bin Al-Kawari.

The United Nation's education, cultural and scientific agency has passed several resolutions against Israel.

In 2011 the U.S. cut its funding to the agency - slashing its budget by 22 percent - in protest at its decision to grant full membership to the Palestine.

The decision follows a string of UNESCO decisions that have drawn criticism from the USA and Israel.

Mr Netanyahu condemned the agency this year for declaring the old city of Hebron in the West Bank a Palestinian World Heritage site.

UNESCO is responsible for coordinating global cooperation in education, science, culture and communication.

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