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Canada freezes voluntary contributions to UNESCO for Palestine admission

11-02-2011 08:53 BJT

OTTAWA, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Canada is deeply disappointed by the decision taken by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to grant Palestine full membership and has decided to freeze new voluntary contributions to the UN agency, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said on Tuesday.

Baird said that under no circumstances will Canada be contributing more money to cover any budgetary shortfall of UNESCO that may result from its decision.

Baird noted in a statement that Canada has also decided that it is currently not considering any new funding proposals for UNESCO programs, adding that Canada is reviewing other options in response to this development.

He said that unilateral Palestinian efforts to seek member- or observer-state status in the UN, UNESCO and other international organizations without a negotiated peace agreement with Israel are ultimately unhelpful.

"Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Canada again urges the parties to resume direct peace talks, without delay or preconditions, on the basis of the September 23 Quartet Statement,"Baird added.

Canada contributes about 10 million Canadian dollars a year to UNESCO.

On Monday Palestine was admitted to UNESCO as a full member in a vote at the 193-member UN branch's 26th General Conference, which opened in Paris on Oct. 25 and will last till Nov. 10.

The voting made UNESCO the first UN agency accepting the Palestinian National Authority as a full member since Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas applied for formal UN membership at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23.

The UN Security Council has decided to discuss the matter in November.

France is among the majority that voted for Palestine's membership, but Israel as well as the United States clearly opposed the Palestinian bid both in the United Nations and in the UN cultural branch.

UNESCO depends on the United States for 22 percent of its annual budget, about 70 million dollars a year, according to a previous report by the New York Times.

Israel's contribution accounts around 3 percent of the organization's annual budget, according to other reports.

The UNESCO General Conference is attended by member states and associate members, together with observers for non-member states, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Each member state has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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