Russia says UNESCO fund freeze by US 'unfortunate'

1st November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Washington's decision to cut its funding to UNESCO in response to admitting Palestine as a full member was "unfortunate."

"I believe it is very unfortunate that the United States has decided to deprive UNESCO from its contributions," Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of a joint meeting with Gulf officials in the United Arab Emirates.

"I think the Palestinian membership in the UNESCO was a very legitimate request from Ramallah," said Lavrov.

The United States cut its funding to the UN's cultural arm on Monday after a majority of member states defied American and Israeli warnings and voted to allow Palestinians full membership in the organisation.

Washington, whose funding amounts to almost a quarter of the cultural body's overall budget, warned of a "cascade" effect should other UN bodies follow suit.

The resolution approving Palestinian membership was adopted to loud applause by 107-14, with 52 abstaining.

The Palestinians could now seek full membership of other UN organisations like the World Intellectual Property Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Such moves would place the United States in an increasing diplomatic bind as in the 1990s it banned the financing of any UN organisation that accepts Palestine as a full member.

Washington, the main broker in negotiations between Israel and Palestinians, has failed to revive negotiations that stalled over the Palestinians insistence that Israel freeze settlement construction in occupied lands.

© 2011 AFP

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