USA to pull out of UNESCO

Berlin Holocaust memorial Germany

USA to pull out of UNESCO

The United States notified UNESCO, a UN cultural organization, of its withdrawal, the U.S. State announced on October 12.

There has been no immediate comment from the U.S. government.

While the US stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011, the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office at its Paris headquarters and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes.

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The agency is known for designating world heritage sites such as Syria's Palmyra and the US Grand Canyon.

The withdrawal, which could be announced as early as next week, comes after many months of the United States condemning numerous rulings by the United Nations body which have favoured Palestinian claims to sites in the Israeli-occupied territories.

Over the past few years, the Paris-based agency has adopted several controversial resolutions regarding political issues related to the conflict in the Middle East. UNESCO has recently renounced the Jewish connection to the Western Wall, rejected Israel's sovereignty in Jerusalem and formally declared the Cave of the Patriarchs a Palestinian site.

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

The Foreign Policy report stated that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the decision about withdrawing from the United Nations body a few weeks ago. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation is going to vote this week to choose a new director.

The Trump administration has been preparing for a likely withdrawal for months, and a decision was expected before the end of the year, according to USA officials.

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