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UNESCO candidate Farah asks Japan to prod U.S. on resuming funding

Kyodo

Djibouti diplomat Rachad Farah, who is running to become next director general of UNESCO, has urged Japan to take the lead in encouraging the United States to resume funding to the agency, which was cut off to protest the granting of full membership to the Palestinians.

Farah, Djibouti’s ambassador to France, said in an interview there is room to talk with the U.S. about the funding issue.

Japan, the second-largest contributor to UNESCO after the U.S., can take “the leadership but with other countries to talk with the Americans,” Farah, 62, said.

Noting that the Americans were finding 22 percent of UNESCO’s budget before cutting off the tap in 2011, Farah said: “This will kill the organization.”

The “U.S. has to resume contributing,” because UNESCO plays an important role “for the peace of the world,” he said.

Farah, who once served as Djibouti’s ambassador to Japan, is vying for the group’s top post with incumbent Director General Irina Bokova. The election will be held in October.

Farah touched on refugees and the poor in Africa who have been denied opportunities for education.

“This situation by itself is a threat for any sustainable stability development,” he said, “because it can be very easy for extremists to go and pick up those people who will become human bombs.”

In suggesting ideas for UNESCO’s youth programs, he said his objective is “to create a kind of strong and big civil society.”