Image: Frederica Mogherini, the European Union’s Foreign Policy chief, attends a news conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov following their meeting in Moscow, Russia, April 24, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin
By Michelle Nichols
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The European Union urged the United States on Tuesday to keep funding U.N. agencies and stay committed to a global deal combating climate change as Washington pushed the 28-state bloc to increase its pressure on Syria, North Korea and Iran.
U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed an unspecified reduction in funding for the United Nations and its agencies, as well as enforcement of a 25 percent cap on U.S. funding for peacekeeping operations.
Agencies such as the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, the World Food Progamme and the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR are funded voluntarily by governments and the United States is a top contributor to many of them.
“Let me be very clear, and speak directly to our American friends. It is essential for us that we all keep investing in these U.N. agencies. They are as important to global peace and security as defence spending – or even more,” EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini told the U.N. Security Council.
She said EU funding amounted to half the agencies’ total budgets and was a contribution “to our own common security.”
Washington also pays 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core U.N. budget and 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget. These assessed contributions are agreed by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly.
Trump complained last month that the United States shoulders an unfair burden of the cost of the U.N., but said if the world body reforms how it operates, the investment would be worth it.
Mogherini also pushed Washington to stay committed to a global agreement to combat climate change, a deal that Trump has threatened to quit. He has promised to announce a decision by the end of May.
“Climate change is real, and is already impacting on our security environment. Everything is linked. So we continue to hope that the United States will find a way to remain committed to the Paris Agreement,” Mogherini said.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called on the EU to “apply more rigorous sanctions” on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government and “impose tough autonomous measures” on North Korea and downgrade diplomatic and economic ties with the Asian state.
On Iran, Haley told the Security Council: “The European Union can and should do more to underscore to Iran that its destabilising actions in the region, including support for extremist and terrorist groups, must cease.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish and Tom Brown)
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