United States withdraws from UNESCO


US officials have told The Associated Press that the United States is pulling out of UNESCO, after repeated criticism of resolutions by the U.N. cultural agency that Washington sees as anti-Israel.

The director of UNESCO is expressing "profound regret" at the US government's decision to pull out of the United Nations cultural agency because of what's seen as longstanding anti-Israel bias.

A representative of the USA delegation to UNESCO referred Reuters to the State Department.

Trump would not be the first US President to withdraw support from UNESCO.Trump's predecessor Barack Obama slashed US funding to the organization in 2011 after it voted to accept Palestine as a full member-state.Former president Ronald Reagan quit the organization altogether in the 1980's.

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The lack of staffing and funding plans for UNESCO by the U.S. have been accompanied by repeated denunciations of UNESCO by senior U.S. officials, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. The move is to take effect on December 31, Washington announced. The U.S. will seek to have a "permanent observer" status instead.

A plan to withdraw from the worldwide body was reportedly made several weeks ago, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson informing French President Emmanuel Macron of America's imminent departure.

The magazine said the decision was aimed at saving money and to protest what the U.S believes is UNESCO's anti-Israel stance.

According to AFP, State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert said Washington would establish an "observer mission" to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency. The withdrawal was confirmed Thursday by US officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to be publicly named discussing the decision. The decision comes after a number of resolutions were criticised by UNESCO, which was termed as anti-Israel by the United States. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation is going to vote this week to choose a new director.