US to pull out of Un­esco, cit­ing anti-Is­rael bias

De­ci­sion un­der­lines Wash­ing­ton drift­ing away from in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions

The Asian Age - - Front Page -

Paris: The United States said on Thurs­day that it was pulling out of the UN’s cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion body, ac­cus­ing it of “anti-Is­rael bias” in a move that un­der­lines Wash­ing­ton’s drift away from in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions. Fol­low­ing years of ten­sion at Un­esco, which is in the process of elect­ing a new direc­tor-gen­eral, US state depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert an­nounced that Wash­ing­ton planned to with­draw.

Paris, Oct. 12: The United States said on Thurs­day that it was pulling out of the UN's cul­ture and ed­u­ca­tion body, ac­cus­ing it of "anti-Is­rael bias" in a move that un­der­lines Wash­ing­ton's drift away from in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions.

Fol­low­ing years of ten­sion at Un­esco, which is in the process of elect­ing a new direc­tor-gen­eral, US state depart­ment spokes­woman Heather Nauert an­nounced that Wash­ing­ton planned to with­draw.

"This de­ci­sion was not taken lightly, and re­flects US con­cerns with mount­ing ar­rears at Un­esco, the need for fun­da­men­tal re­form in the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and con­tin­u­ing an­tiIs­rael bias at Un­esco," she said in a state­ment.

The United States has walked away once be­fore un­der ex-pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan, who quit Un­esco in 1984 over al­leged fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment and claims of anti-US bias in some of its poli­cies.

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush an­nounced Amer­ica's re­turn in 2002, but re­la­tions soured again in 2011 when Barack Obama pulled the plug on fund­ing to the body af­ter its mem­bers voted to ad­mit Pales­tine as a full mem­ber.

Wash­ing­ton op­poses any move by UN bod­ies to recog­nise the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries as a state, be­liev­ing that this must await a ne­go­ti­ated Mid­dle East peace deal. But Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's ad­min­is­tra­tion is also re­view­ing many of its mul­ti­lat­eral com­mit­ments, pur­su­ing what he calls an "Amer­ica First" pol­icy that has al­lies in Europe wor­ried.

"Un­esco is about pro­mot­ing our ideals and val­ues through cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion and science," France's UN am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre told re­porters in New York, adding that "we need an Amer­ica that stays com­mit­ted to world af­fairs." Is­rael, which re­mains a Un­esco mem­ber, said the move by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion marked a "new era" for the United Na­tions and showed there was a "price to pay for dis­crim­i­na­tion against Is­rael". The US de­ci­sion, first re­ported by for­eign pol­icy mag­a­zine, comes as Euro­pean pow­ers face an­other set­back in their ef­forts to lobby Trump to re­spect Wash­ing­ton's in­ter­na­tional com­mit­ments.

In June, he said he would with­draw from the 2015 Paris cli­mate change agree­ment, and later this week he is set to ac­cuse Iran of fail­ing to re­spect a nu­clear deal ne­go­ti­ated by world pow­ers in the same year -- tak­ing the op­po­site view of his al­lies.

The out­go­ing head of Un­esco, Irina Bokova, called the US with­drawal a "loss to mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism", while UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res said through a spokesman that he "re­grets this de­vel­op­ment deeply". — AFP

Prince Wil­liam and Bill Henry “Wil­lie” Api­ata, for­mer Cor­po­ral in the New Zealand Spe­cial Air Ser­vice and Vic­to­ria Cross awardee, per­form a tra­di­tional greet­ing dur­ing a com­mem­o­ra­tion of the WWI Bat­tle of Pass­chen­daele at Tyne Cot ceme­tery in Zon­nebeke, Bel­gium, on Thurs­day.

— AFP

A de­serted Un­esco head­quar­ters in Paris on Thurs­day.

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