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U.N. chief, Trump meet at White House amid U.S. funding cut threat
April 21, 2017 / 5:49 PM / 5 months ago

U.N. chief, Trump meet at White House amid U.S. funding cut threat

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks at Financing for Peace: Innovations to Tackle Fragility session during the IMF/World Bank spring meetings in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday for the first time since both took office earlier this year and amid a U.S. push to cut funding to the world body and its agencies.

Guterres met with Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, and then “had an opportunity to meet with President Trump,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general and the president agreed to meet again in the near future,” Dujarric told reporters at the United Nations.

“In his meetings at the White House, the secretary-general felt he had had an interesting and constructive discussion on cooperation between the United States and the United Nations,” he said.

U.N. Security Council ambassadors are due to meet Trump in Washington on Monday, diplomats said. The United States is president of the 15-member council for April.

Trump has proposed a 28 percent budget cut for diplomacy and foreign aid, which includes an unspecified reduction in financial support for the United Nations and its agencies, as well as enforcement of a 25 percent cap on U.S. funding for peacekeeping operations.

The United States is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget. These are assessed contributions agreed by the U.N. General Assembly.

The United States currently owes the United Nations $896 million for its core budget, U.N. officials said. The United States is also reviewing peacekeeping missions as their mandates come up for renewal in a bid to cut costs.

U.N. agencies such as the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP), the children’s agency UNICEF, and the U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA), are funded by governments voluntarily.

The State Department said this month it was ending funding for UNFPA, the international body’s agency focused on family planning as well as maternal and child health in more than 150 countries. Guterres warned that the cut could have “devastating effects” on vulnerable women and girls.

In 2016, the United States was the top contributor to the UNDP’s core budget, with an $83 million donation; the leading donor to UNICEF’s core budget in 2015 with $132 million; and the fourth-largest donor to the UNFPA, giving $75 million in core budget and earmarked contributions.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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