ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

clear-day
60°
Partly Cloudy
H 76° L 62°
  • clear-day
    60°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 76° L 62°
  • cloudy-day
    68°
    Evening
    Partly Cloudy. H 76° L 62°
  • cloudy-day
    64°
    Morning
    Mostly Cloudy. H 77° L 64°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Entertainment
AP Interview: UNESCO chief says US 'empty chair' can't last
Close

AP Interview: UNESCO chief says US 'empty chair' can't last

AP Interview: UNESCO chief says US 'empty chair' can't last
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Christophe Ena
UNESCO'S new elected director-general France's Audrey Azoulay attends a press conference at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO headquarters in Paris, Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. UNESCO's member states have voted to confirm the nomination of former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay as the body's new leader. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

AP Interview: UNESCO chief says US 'empty chair' can't last

New UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay has rebuked the U.S. for its decision to withdraw from the U.N. cultural body for alleged anti-Israel bias and says America is "affected by everything" the agency does.

Following her confirmation Friday as director general, Azoulay acknowledged difficulties in the Paris-based organization that has been rocked by U.S. funding cuts since 2011 over the admission of Palestine as a member.

But the 45-year-old former French culture minister told The Associated Press that the Trump administration's announcement to pull out of the agency is not tenable in the long term.

"I obviously regret their departure ... but this 'empty chair politics' is not sustainable because the United States is also affected by everything that UNESCO does," she said, speaking at the agency's Paris headquarters.

The U.N.'s educational, scientific and cultural agency is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions, but it also works to fight violent extremism, improve education for girls, promote Holocaust understanding, defend media freedoms and encourage science on climate change.

Azoulay, who will be officially sworn in Monday, said the American withdrawal "did not come as a surprise" given the "critical position" the U.S. has taken recently — a reference to President Donald Trump's "America First" policies.

Azoulay said she will maintain a dialogue with the U.S., which plans to remain as a "permanent observer."

The U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine in 2011, but the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes. The U.S. now owes about $550 million in back payments.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel also plans to withdraw from the agency. Israel has been irked by resolutions that diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites. Israel told The AP it planned to pull out of the agency this month.

There have been hopes that Azoulay, the organization's first Jewish chief who is also of Moroccan descent, would be able to quell the political tempest inside the organization that was created following World War II to promote peace.

"I have multiple identities. An identity built on multiplicity, built on diversity. And I have experienced in my life how much of an opportunity that is — how much in today's modern world this complexity and diversity is an asset," she said.

She warned against writing UNESCO off.

"It's prejudicial to UNESCO to reduce its scope of work to a few hotbeds of tensions," she said. "We are always stronger with multilateral dialogue. It's as true for Israel as it is for other countries."

UNESCO's Executive Board nominated Azoulay their next chief after an unusually heated election overshadowed by Mideast tensions. The choice was confirmed Friday by the General Conference who voted 131-19 to appoint her.

She will be UNESCO's second female chief after outgoing leader Irina Bokova and its second French chief. While she is Jewish, her father is Moroccan and was an influential adviser to Moroccan kings, so she also has a connection to the Arab world.

__

Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K

__

Masha Macpherson and Oleg Cetinic contributed in Paris to this report

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A woman accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, of groping her during a photo-op in Minnesota in 2010, two years after the former comedian and radio show host was voted into the U.S. Senate, CNN reported on Monday. >> Read more trending news Lindsay Menz, now 33, told CNN that she was posing for a photo with Franken at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair when the senator “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, (Franken) put his hand full-fledged on my rear.” She said the “uncomfortable” incident left her feeling “gross.” 'It wasn't around my waist. It wasn't around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,' she told CNN. 'I was like, ‘Oh my God, what's happening?’' In a statement to CNN, Franken said that he felt “badly that Ms. Menz came away from our interaction feeling disrespected,” but he said he didn’t remember taking the photo with her. Menz came forward in the wake of allegations against Franken made by Los Angeles news anchor Leeann Tweeden. In a blog post for KABC, Tweeden wrote that Franken, who was a radio host for Air America at the time, forced himself on her as they were practicing a skit he wrote for the tour. Franken has since apologized for the incident. >> Related: Sen. Al Franken accused of kissing, groping news anchor without consent “I felt disgusted and violated,” Tweeden wrote. “No one saw what happened backstage. I didn’t tell the sergeant major of the Army, who was the sponsor of the tour. I didn’t tell our USO rep what happened.” She said she focused on entertaining the troops and didn’t speak up because she “didn’t want to cause trouble.” “We were in the middle of a war zone, it was the first show of our holiday tour, I was a professional and I could take care of myself,” she wrote. “I told a few of the others on the tour what Franken had done, and they knew how I felt about it.” >> Related: 'SNL' slams former cast member Al Franken on 'Weekend Update' Franken called for an investigation into the 2006 incident after apologizing to Tweeden in a statement last week. 'The truth is, what people think of me in light of this is far less important than what people think of women who continue to come forward to tell their stories,' Franken said. 'They deserve to be heard, and believed. And they deserve to know that I am their ally and supporter. I have let them down and am committed to making it up to them.”
  • A DNA expert is testifying Monday in the murder trial of a man accused of raping and killing a 27-year-old woman at her downtown Orlando apartment. Police said Stephen Duxbury strangled Sasha Samsudean in October 2015 at the Uptown Place apartments after she returned from a night out. Duxbury worked as a security guard at the apartment building at the time. Read: Investigators testify in downtown Orlando security guard's murder trial On Friday, jurors were shown physical evidence in the case, including a pair of Skechers sneakers prosecutors said Duxbury was wearing when he killed Samsudean. Police said Duxbury tried to pass off a different pair of shoes as the ones he had worn that night, but they said the sneakers match shoe prints found in her apartment. Prosecutors on Friday had a cellphone expert testify that Duxbury googled how to open Samsudean's unique front door lock before she died. The expert said Duxbury tried erasing his phone afterward. Read: Testimony continues in downtown Orlando security guard's murder trial Photos: Sasha Samsudean Duxbury told police he never went into Samsudean's apartment. Investigators said DNA evidence was discovered on Samsudean's body and her bedsheets, and Duxury's fingerprints were found on her toilet and her nightstand. Investigators said surveillance footage shows Duxbury walking with an intoxicated Samsudean. Read: Video shows murder suspect, victim at downtown Orlando apartment His attorneys claim that investigators botched the case and that the true killer remains at large. Duxbury faces life in prison if convicted in Samsudean’s death. Click here to watch the trial live. Read: New report outlines how suspect broke into woman's downtown apartment
  • Police are investigating a fatal shooting that happened at Barcelona Wine Bar. According to Atlanta police, officers responded to the restaurant in the 1000 block of Howell Mill Road just before 2 a.m. Sunday on a report that a person had been shot. Police said they found 29-year-old Chelsea Beller, of Atlanta. Police told WSBTV, Beller had been shot once in the shoulder during an apparent robbery. >> Read more trending news As the restaurant was closing, three men entered the location and tied up employees with electrical tape, according to police. They said the victim was forced upstairs to open the safe and then shot. She was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital, where she later died. 'She was just a positive person, fun loving. She didn't have an enemy to speak of,' said her cousin, Brandi Borgwat. 'Everybody that knew her, loved her.' Friends left flowers and candles outside the restaurant Sunday afternoon. While the investigation continues, Beller's family hopes that her killers are not on the streets for much longer. 'She deserves justice for this,' said Borgwat.
  • Dashcam footage from two different vehicles captured a plane crash Sunday on a busy Clearwater road. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office shared the video on YouTube Sunday, within hours of the crash. Two deputies were driving on North Keene Road as the plane tried to make an emergency landing.  The plane’s wing clipped a wing, sending the plane crashing into a wooded area. A resident in the area quickly recorded video of the response. According to reports, the pilot and passenger were able to escape the wreckage uninjured. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating the incident.
  • Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a phallus and the U.S. Navy says it’s responsible for the obscene sky drawing. Maverick and Ice have nothing on this pilot. Navy officials were forced to apologize after residents of Okanogan County, Washington noticed a sky drawing many said looked like male genitalia on Thursday. In a statement to KREM-TV, officials at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island said, 'The Navy holds its aircrew to the highest standards and we find this absolutely unacceptable, of zero training value and we are holding the crew accountable.' So just to be clear, the Navy says, there is ‘zero training value’ in drawing a giant penis in the sky.