US to withdraw from UN's cultural agency in December

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is withdrawing from UNESCO, the United Nation's cultural and educational agency, effective Dec. 31, the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Thursday.

"This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects U.S. 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."

(Reporting by Susan Heavey)

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An American flag flies outside the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France, October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
The logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is seen in front of its headquarters in Paris, France, October 4, 2017. Picture taken October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
A general view shows the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France, October 4, 2017. Picture taken October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
PARIS, FRANCE - OCTOBER 11: Flags from several countries float in front of the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on October 11, 2017 in Paris, France. From this Monday, the 58 members of the Executive Board of Unesco will vote by secret ballot at the headquarters of the organization to elect their new Director General. Several ballots are scheduled and the name of the new Director General of UNESCO will be announced on November 10. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
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