Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Palestinians hope for US reserve over UNESCO funds

LONDON (AP) — The Palestinian foreign minister said Wednesday he hopes the United States can be persuaded to reverse its decision to cut funds to UNESCO now that the U.N. agency has voted to give the Palestinians membership.

Riad Malki told The Associated Press in an interview that several countries are lobbying the U.S. over the withdrawal of the funds and that talks are planned between U.S. officials and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Following the Oct. 31 vote that made Palestine a member of the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, two U.S. laws kicked in that halted the flow of funds to the agency, forcing it to scale back literacy and development programs it carries out in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the new nation of South Sudan.

The United States contributes $80 million annually in dues — 22 percent of UNESCO's overall budget — and its 2011 contribution was not yet in when the laws took effect, immediately throwing UNESCO into crisis.

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