Cutoff of US money leads UNESCO to slash programs
PARIS — A year after the United States cut off its financing to UNESCO, following a vote to make Palestine a full member, the organization remains engaged in a frantic effort to cut back programs, reduce costs and raise emergency money.
UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, has secured pledges of about $70 million since December to try to make up for the roughly $144 million in dues that the U.S. has withheld, she said in an interview. Major contributors have included Saudi Arabia, with $20 million, and Norway, with $20 million over two years for crucial programs.
“But there is still an enormous shortfall,” Bokova said, calling the loss of U.S. financing “a big blow to the organization” that was also costing the United States.
“The suspension has diminished the possibility of the United States to be involved together with UNESCO,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, she said, limiting its ability “to outreach to the Muslim world, to talk of democracy building in Arab countries” and to promote programs for gender equality, freedom of expression and the protection of journalists.
—Steven Erlanger, The New York Times
In talks, Japan and South Korea vow economic cooperation
TOKYO — The finance ministers of Japan and South Korea declared on Thursday that their nations would closely cooperate on economic and financial issues, in talks aimed at limiting the political damage from a diplomatic clash over contested islands.
The talks took place during annual meetings in Tokyo of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that were supposed to focus largely on the debt crisis in Europe. Instead, they have been at least partly overshadowed by concerns that the rekindling of territorial disputes in eastern and southeastern Asia could hurt the region’s vital role as a source of growth for the global economy.
On Thursday, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, told participants that fixing Europe’s debt problems and averting drastic fiscal cuts in the United States were needed to lift global economic confidence. That lack of confidence is “having a ripple effect on emerging markets, and in particular in Asia,” Lagarde said.
—Martin Fackler, The New York Times
Indonesia seeing increase of small terrorist groups
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Ansyaad Mbai, the director of the National Counterterrorism Agency here, has a genealogy of terrorism spread across his office wall. It starts in 1949, the year Dutch colonizers acknowledged Indonesia’s independence, and extends to 2011. Like a family tree, it begins with one line and gradually branches out into an increasingly complex web with names and photographs of the country’s most notorious terrorists.
“It’s like a database, the framework to coordinate intelligence,” he said.
But lately the database has expanded beyond the boundaries of the chart, as smaller, more local groups with different objectives than those of their al-Qaida-affiliated predecessors drive the terrorist threat.
In the 10 years since Islamic militants blew up two nightclubs on the resort island of Bali, killing 202 people, Indonesian security forces have arrested more than 700 people on suspicion of being militants and killed about 60. All the major suspects in the Bali attacks on Oct. 12, 2002, have been killed or imprisoned.
—Sara Schonhardt, The New York Times