UNITED NATIONS, October 12. /TASS/. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres deeply regrets the US withdrawal from the UN"s cultural organization UNESCO, given the major role it has played in it, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Farhan Haq told TASS on Thursday.
"Secretary General deeply regrets the US withdrawal, in light of the major role that the US has played in UNESCO since its founding," he said.
Earlier on Thursday, the US notified UNESCO that it is withdrawing its membership of the organization.
"On October 12, 2017, the Department of State notified UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of the US decision to withdraw from the organization and to seek to establish a permanent observer mission to UNESCO," State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.
The decision will take effect on December 31, 2018, and the US will remain a full member of the UN cultural organization until that time.
Nauert stressed "this decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO."
The US showed its desire to "remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state." Washington plans to "contribute US views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education."
In December 2016, the Washington Post reported that US Congress considered the idea of withdrawing from such organizations as the UN and UNESCO after the Security Council passed a resolution calling on Israel to immediately halt its settlement activity on the occupied Palestinian territories.
In 2011, the US refused to take part in financing UNESCO after Palestine joined it as a full-fledged member. Later Israel followed suit. As a result, the international organization lost 22% of its financing.
Several countries, including the UK and France expressed regrets over the move earlier on Thursday.