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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 16, 2001


I welcome the significant reforms in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over the past several years, beginning with the distinguished tenure of Frederico Mayor of Spain. Mr. Mayor helped to revitalize and refocus the organization on its core missions of promoting education for all, preserving our cultural heritage and upholding freedom of the press. I also welcome the continued emphasis on these issues under UNESCO's current Director General, Koichiro Matsuura, who has also taken significant steps to reform the organization.

For several years, we have indicated our willingness to consider rejoining UNESCO subject to reform efforts and the availability of funding. UNESCO's substantial progress on reform and the UN General Assembly's agreement on modification of assessments present the United States with a new opportunity to move forward on this issue.

Our participation in UNESCO would strengthen the organization's ability to deal with such issues as the digital divide, education for all, and international cooperation on scientific issues. It would also better enable us to ensure that the organization sustains the progress made in recent years.

For all of these reasons, I would encourage the incoming Administration to include a request to fund UNESCO in its FY 2002 budget, and thereby pave the way for reentry into this important organization.