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United States to pull out of UNESCO

12 October 2017

The State Department says the pulling out of UNESCO because of what Washington sees as its anti-Israel bias and need for "fundamental reform" of the United Nations cultural agency.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said she received official notification from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, adding she expressed "profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO".

The US State Department confirmed the country is officially withdrawing from UNESCO, the UN's cultural body it helped found back in 1945.

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Paris-based UNESCO, which began work in 1946, is known for designating World Heritage sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park.

According to the American Foreign Policy news site, the White House is planning to pull out of UNESCO in an attempt to save money and due to the United Nations body's anti-Israel bias.

It is not the first time the US has withdrawn.

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It says the withdrawal will take effect December 31, 2018.

A plan to withdraw from the global 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 officials, who were not authorized to be publicly named discussing the issue, said notably angry over UNESCO resolutions denying Jewish connections to holy sites and references to Israel as an occupying power. The withdrawal was confirmed Thursday by USA officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to be publicly named discussing the decision.

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If it does withdraw from UNESCO, the USA would remain as an observer state in meetings. The move was announced by Heather Nauert, spokesperson of the state department.

United States to pull out of UNESCO