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Former ambassadors urge Congress not to cut UN funding

Nine former American ambassadors to the United Nations have urged members of Congress not to cut US contributions to the world body.

“The U.N. remains an indispensable instrument for advancing the global stability and prosperity on which U.S. interests and priorities depend,” the ambassadors wrote in a letter to congressional leaders released on Tuesday.

“We therefore urge you to support U.S. leadership at the U.N., including through continued payment of our assessed and voluntary financial contributions to the organization,” they said.

The ambassadors, who served under five Republican and Democratic presidents, further warned that withholding or cutting funding to the UN “weakens our hand” and “alienates allies whose support is critical to our reform priorities.”

The letter came a day after a lunch hosted by President Trump at the White House for members of the UN Security Council, who also expressed the same sentiment about the importance of continued US funding.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (L), National Security Adviser HR McMaster (R) and others listen as US President Donald Trump speaks before a working lunch with UN Security Council member nations in the State Dining Room of the White House, April 24, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it would withdraw funding for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which helps millions of women and girls in 155 countries around the world.

The State Department alleged that UNFPA was participating in a program by China that forces its citizens into involuntary abortions and sterilization. UNFPA slammed the allegation as an “erroneous claim.”

That was the first of the promised cuts to US contributions to the UN by the Trump administration.

“None of us believe the U.N. is perfect, but we all believe it remains an essential tool in America’s foreign policy and national security tool box,” said Madeleine Albright, who was former President Bill Clinton’s UN ambassador and later served as the first female secretary of state.

Albright warned that if the US cuts its contributions, other powers such as Russia and China will move to fill the gap and assume the leadership role at the UN.

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright looks on during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, March 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has traditionally been the UN’s largest donor, contributing about $611 million this year to the organization’s $2.5 billion regular budget.

In addition, the US gives more than $2 billion annually for UN peacekeeping missions and hundreds of millions more to support other programs such as the UN Children’s Fund and the World Food Program.

Days after taking office in January, President Trump issued two executive orders to drastically reduce financial contributions to the UN and other international organizations.

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