US official in efforts to stop UNESCO convention

21st October 2005, Comments 0 comments

ROME, Oct 21 (AFP) - A top US official said Friday she would meet her French counterpart and UNESCO officials in Paris as part of a diplomatic effort to prevent ratification of UNESCO's cultural diversity convention.

ROME, Oct 21 (AFP) - A top US official said Friday she would meet her French counterpart and UNESCO officials in Paris as part of a diplomatic effort to prevent ratification of UNESCO's cultural diversity convention.

The United States suffered a resounding diplomatic defeat Thursday when an overwhelming majority of UNESCO's 191 member-states approved the convention to protect and promote cultural diversity, which Washington fears will hit sales of American movies and music.

"We want to try to prevent people from ratifying it," said Kristin Silverberg, a top US State Department official for relations with UN bodies, following talks with Italian officials in Rome.

"The biggest thing we can do is get countries to agree not to misuse it, that they not cite it in the Hong Kong talks in support of 'cultural exceptions'," said Silverberg, referring to the next major meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) "Doha Round" negotiations in December.

Silverberg said she would take Washington's grievances to UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura in a meeting in Paris on Monday.

"I will meet the director general of UNESCO and I'm going to deliver the same message to my French counterpart Jean-Maurice Ripert," she said.

"We hope it won't be used to circumvent our trade liberalisation efforts," the US official added.

Washington maintains the convention will hit free trade and the free flow of ideas, but supporters of the convention like France believe it will help countries protect their own culture from the negative effects of globalisation.

Silverberg, who was appointed in August, is on a three-country trip to Europe taking in meetings in Rome, Florence, Paris and Geneva.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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