Health Agency Director Concerned About Threatened Cutoff of Funds

The director general of the World Health Organization warned Tuesday that a threatened cutoff of U.S. funds to the agency could imperil “the health of the people of the world.”

Hiroshi Nakajima made the statement at a news conference following meetings here with State Department officials.

He was reacting to a statement issued Monday by Secretary of State James Baker, who said he would urge President Bush to cut off all funds to any U.N. agency that upgrades the observer status the Palestine Liberation Organization currently enjoys in U.N. bodies.

The PLO has asked the WHO to grant its declared state of Palestine full membership at the annual World Health Assembly, which convenes next week in Geneva.

A White House source said Tuesday that Baker’s recommendation “is still a recommendation and that Bush has not yet officially adopted that position. But he added, “We always take the recommendations of the secretary of state with great seriousness.”

In Jerusalem, the Israeli Foreign Ministry welcomed Baker’s statement and said Tuesday it hoped other nations would follow suit.

Several American Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. also praised the secretary’s statement.

MAJORITY VOTE NEEDED

Nakajima spoke at the Pan American Health Organization building here, after meeting at the State Department with John Bolton, assistant secretary of state-designate for international organizations, and N. Shaw Smith, the acting assistant secretary.

Nakajima said he urged PLO leader Yasir Arafat at a meeting on April 20, not to press the PLO application for membership, which was formally filed April 6.

The 42nd World Health Assembly is due to convene in Geneva on Monday, and any vote to consider the Palestinian state for membership would occur on Monday or Tuesday, Nakajima said.

The 166 member nations of the WHO will vote on the matter, if approved by the agenda-setting committee, said WHO spokeswoman Ann Kern. A majority vote is needed to approve the membership application.

If the United States withheld its voluntary contribution. WHO’s planned $120 million in outlays for the rest of 1989 would be cut to $20 million. Nakajima said. That is because the United States would withhold about $75 million for the 1990 fiscal year and $25 million in arrears.

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