United States reported to be 'withdrawing' from UNESCO

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The US is pulling out of the UN's cultural organization UNESCO, accusing it of "anti-Israel" bias.

The director of UNESCO is expressing "profound regret" at the US government's decision to pull out of the United Nations cultural agency because of what's seen as longstanding anti-Israel bias.

According to the American Foreign Policy news site, the White House is planning to pull out of UNESCO in an attempt to save money and due to the United Nations body's anti-Israel bias.

"This decision was not taken lightly", according to a State Department statement on Thursday.

Paris-based UNESCO, which began work in 1946, is known for designating World Heritage sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park.

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The decision will come into force on December 31, 2018.

The US had stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member in 2011 but it did maintain a UNESCO office.

The magazine said the decision was aimed at saving money and to protest what the U.S believes is UNESCO's anti-Israel stance.

Washington will remain in the organization "as a non-member observer state in order to contribute USA views, perspectives and expertise", the statement said. It was not clear when the move would be formally announced. UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation is going to vote this week to choose a new director.

Earlier, Washington officials told AP that the United States is withdrawing from UNESCO after repeated criticism of resolutions that the Trump administration perceived as anti-Israeli.