U.S. to withdraw from UNESCO

U.S. to withdraw from UNESCO

The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations cultural organization, after years of America distancing itself because of what it saw as the group's "anti-Israel bias".

There has been no immediate comment from the United States government.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects USA concerns with mounting arrears at Unesco, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at Unesco", the department said, adding that the United States would seek to "remain engaged ... as a non-member observer state in order to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise".

UNESCO said the withdrawal was a loss to the "UN family" and to multilateralism.

United States has earlier pulled out from UNESCO as well.

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In a statement, the State Department said it notified UNESCO director Irina Bokova on Thursday of the decision.

According to AP, Washington made the move due to "tensions over Palestine, specifically because of a resolution adopted by UNESCO, which Washington sees as being anti-Israeli". The U.S. will remain an observer in the Paris-based cultural, scientific and educational organization.

The US had stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011 but it did maintain a UNESCO office.

US officials said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision and that it was not discussed with other countries but an internal USA government deliberation.

If it does withdraw from UNESCO, the U.S. would remain as an observer state in meetings.

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