New UNESCO chief brushes off US pullout

UNESCO's new chief on Monday brushed aside the United States' decision to walk out of the UN cultural body, saying the organisation had survived long periods without Washington before. Former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay, elected on Friday to head UNESCO, said the US was "not the beginning and end" of the agency. The US and Israel both announced their pullout last month, accusing UNESCO of "anti-Israel bias". Azoulay said Washington's decision was not "a complete surprise, bearing in mind the United States' current position on multilateralism". "It's a sovereign decision by a state that I respect, but which at the same time is not the beginning and end of UNESCO," she told France Inter radio. "There have been long periods at UNESCO -- more than 15 years -- without the United States, which ultimately came back." She added she did

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