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UN Agrees To $570 Million Cut In Peacekeeping Missions Under U.S. Pressure

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley (file photo)

The United Nations General Assembly on June 30 agreed to a nearly $600 million cut in the UN's budget for peacekeeping under pressure from the United States, which proposed to slash the program.

After days of negotiations, the assembly's powerful budget committee agreed to a $7.3 billion budget for 14 peacekeeping missions for the year starting July 1, a $570 million cut from the current budget of $7.87 billion.

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley hailed the decision as an achievement.

"Just five months into our time here, we've already been able to cut over half a billion dollars from the UN peacekeeping budget, and we're only getting started," she said.

Washington pays 28.5 percent of the peacekeeping budget and 22 percent of the UN's core budget of $5.4 billion. The UN has about 95,000 peacekeepers serving in its missions worldwide.

The United States has been closely reviewing every peacekeeping mission as its mandate comes up for renewal with an eye toward pruning spending.

'Satisfactory Solution'

The UN has been carrying out its own reviews. Those led to the closing of the peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast on June 30, while the mission in Liberia is wrapping up its operations next year and the Haiti mission will come mostly to an end in October.

The UN is also slashing the number of peacekeepers in Darfur by 44 percent and the number of international police there by about 27 percent.

When negotiations over the peacekeeping budget began, the United Nations was seeking an increase to nearly $8 billion while the United States wanted to cut it to just below $7 billion.

Italy's UN ambassador, Sebastiano Cardi, said the $7.3 billion agreement ended up close to where the European Union said the budget should be.

"It's been a satisfactory solution," he said, adding that the cuts didn't jeopardize the operation of UN missions and are going "to make peacekeeping better."

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said "the overall level is meaningfully smaller than what we had last year, but we will make every effort to ensure that the mandates are implemented."

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spent three days in Washington this week lobbying lawmakers to allocate more funding to the UN than President Donald Trump requested in his budget.

"We cannot overstate the value of peacekeeping to achieve peace and stability," Dujarric said. "It remains the most cost-effective instrument at the disposal of the international community to prevent conflicts and foster conditions for lasting peace."

With reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa
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