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Guterres Prepared to Meet U.S. Lawmakers amid Warning against Cutting Funding to U.N. | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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United Nations Security Council. Reuters

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power on Friday warned that cutting Washington’s funding to the U.N. over a resolution that condemned Israeli settlements would be “extremely detrimental” to American interests as a spokeswoman said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is prepared to meet with U.S. lawmakers to discuss the issue.

Addressing her final news conference, Power told reporters that “countries like Russia and China” would benefit from Washington’s reduced standing at the United Nations if funding were withdrawn.

“We lead the world, in part, by leading at the U.N.,” said Power, who is stepping down next week after four years as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations.

The diplomat spoke as some U.S. senators push to cut funding to the world body over the Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements.

The United States abstained from the Dec. 23 vote, allowing the 15-member council to adopt the resolution with 14 votes in favor.

Israel and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump had called for Washington to wield its veto.

On Thursday, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham introduced legislation to cut the funding until the president certifies that the Security Council has repealed the resolution. However, the legislation stands little chance of advancing in Congress, where it would need Democrats’ support and even some Republicans consider the move as too extreme.

The Safeguard Israel Act of 2017 aims to push back against the U.N. by threatening to pull billions of dollars in funding.

Much of Power’s parting words were in defense of U.S. engagement at the United Nations, saying that while the “U.N. system is flawed” with a bloated bureaucracy, there is a need for a global body to pool common efforts.

The United States is by far the U.N.’s biggest financial contributor, providing 22 percent of its operating budget and funding 28 percent of peacekeeping missions, which currently cost $8 billion annually.

Trump, who will take office on January 20, has dismissed the United Nations as “just a club for people to get together and have a good time.”

After the council voted to demand an end to Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, Trump warned on Twitter: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike fumed over the U.N.’s reprimand of Israel.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly last week to condemn the resolution, noting that the Obama administration’s refusal to use its veto power “undermined” Washington’s decades-long position of shielding its closest Middle East ally at the United Nations.

U.N. spokeswoman Eri Kaneko said the world body would closely monitor the progress of the U.S. legislation.

“The secretary-general very much welcomes an opportunity to discuss any issues with U.S. lawmakers,” she said. “We’re always eager and available to meet with U.S. lawmakers as needed.”

“We look forward, under the new administration, to the continuing strong partnership between the U.S. and the U.N. especially in the three main pillars of human rights, peace and security and development,” Kaneko added.