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White House marks rejoining UNESCO, says Trump-era absence harmed US interests

The White House marked the United States rejoining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) ahead of first lady Jill Biden’s trip to France, four years after former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement.

Senior administration officials outlined that the U.S. not being a part of the international organization was harmful to its interests.

“In recent years with UNESCO, it became clear that the U.S. absence from this organization was actually harming our interests,” officials said, adding that U.S. competitors are “working hard in the U.N. to shape the global agenda on issues ranging from emerging technology to sustainable development.”

“If we aren’t in the room, we can’t push back and if we don’t show up, we can’t fight for the American people and defend our allies abroad from unfair attacks,” officials said.

The U.S. in 2019 officially withdrew from UNESCO, two years after the Trump administration cited anti-Israel bias for the decision to leave the group. The withdrawal was largely procedural, and came as the Trump administration more broadly raised concerns about the United Nations’ agenda and attitudes toward Israel.

The first lady will deliver remarks at the UNESCO flag-raising ceremony. She is set to leave Sunday evening and return on Wednesday.

Officials cited rejoining UNESCO as part of President Biden’s overall focus on U.S. leadership and participation on the global stage following the Trump years.

“From the very early days of this administration, we took steps to strengthen our global partnerships and recommit to American leadership at the U.N. and international organizations,” officials said.

The first lady will engage with UNESCO leaders on ethics of emerging technology, press freedom, and education, which is notable for her as a longtime teacher.

She will also meet with France’s first lady Brigitte Macron, a fellow teacher, while in Paris. And, she will visit Brittany American Cemetery in Normandy to honor World War II troops. UNESCO was co-founded by the U.S. after World War II.

Source: The Hill

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