United States pulls out of United Nations cultural organisation

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Citing in part its "anti-Israel bias" and otherwise complaining of costs, the Trump administration announced Thursday that the USA will withdraw from UNESCO, the United Nations agency focused on education, science, and culture.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO", the Department of State's press release said.

Hegadorn said the USA would remain a force at the cultural agency in the same way as it was from 1984, when the country withdrew under then-President Ronald Reagan.

She paid tribute to what she said had been a meaningful relationship between UNESCO and the USA, saying: "since 2011, we have deepened the partnership between the United States and UNESCO, which has never been so meaningful". 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.

The withdrawal represented a loss to the "UN family" and to multilateralism, Ms Bokova said.

"This truth has become even more evident today, at a time when the growth of extremism and terrorism calls for new long-term solutions for peace and freedom, in the context of combating racism and anti-Semitism, in combating ignorance and discrimination", she said.

Nauert said the state department had notified Bokova of their decision earlier on Thursday.

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The United States - one of the body's founding members - has withdrawn once before under president Ronald Reagan, who quit in 1984 over alleged financial mismanagement and anti-US bias in some of its policies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel plans to pull out of the United Nations' cultural agency following the "brave and moral" decision by the United States to withdraw from UNESCO.

She said the USA pulling out is a loss for the United Nations and for global alliances.

Washington has also protested against UNESCO's decision to grant full membership to Palestine, deciding to suspend regular payments to the organization in 2011.

The 2016 resolution condemned Israel's "escalating aggressions" regarding a holy site in Jerusalem's Old City, known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as the Temple Mount.

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

She also mentioned a long history of joint endeavours, including working together with the late Samuel Pisar, Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Education, to promote education for remembrance of the Holocaust across the world to fight antisemitism and genocide on Thursday; cooperating with major US companies Microsoft, Cisco, Procter & Gamble and Intel to keep girls in school and nurture technologies for quality learning; and working with the US Geological Survey, US Army Corps of Engineers, and US professional societies to advance research for the sustainable management of water resources, agriculture.

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