The United States has told the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that it wants to join the agency, nearly six years after stepping down.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed to Axios that the United States had privately notified the UN agency of its interest in joining, saying that Richard Verma, the Assistant Secretary of State for Management and resources, sent a letter last week to UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay proposing plans for the United States to join the agency.
A source told the outlet that the proposed plan, which was negotiated between the State Department and UNESCO, detailed a timeline for paying off the US debt and re-admitting it to the agency’s board.
Lawmakers approved a bill last year that allocated more than $500 million needed to pay off America’s debt to UNESCO in order to enable its return as a full member, according to Axios.
Another source told Axios that Azoulay’s office has informed ambassadors from all member states of a meeting scheduled for Monday, where the chief executive will brief members from the United States on plans to return to the agency, also requesting their approval to hold a special general conference. meeting next month to welcome the American decision and approve their plan to join the agency.
It’s been nearly six years since the then-Trump administration announced it would quit UNESCO over what it called anti-Israel bias.
Last year, Israel, which also left the agency, informed the State Department that it would not oppose a return of the United States to the agency.
Joining the UN-based agency is one of the Biden administration’s top foreign policy goals, in part to counter the Chinese government’s growing influence at UNESCO, Axios reported.
The Hill contacted the State Department for comment and more information.
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