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UNESCO Director Says PLO Bid to Join Agency is ‘premature’

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The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization says he has advised Yasir Arafat not to press for the admission of “Palestine” to the U.N. agency, because “his bid is premature and will not succeed at this time.”

Federico Mayor Zaragoza, director general of UNESCO, told the Madrid daily El Pais that he expects the application by the Palestine Liberation Organization to fail when it comes before UNESCO’s General Conference in October.

He said one reason was that admission of the PLO would kill any chance of the United States returning to UNESCO.

The United States pulled out of the agency in 1984, accusing it of anti-Western bias and politicization.

UNESCO’s 51-member executive council announced here in June that a request for the admission of “Palestine,” submitted by seven Arab and African states, would be placed on the General Conference agenda in the fall.

The General Conference is the agency’s equivalent of the U.N. General Assembly.

The decision was a compromise worked out by the 12 nations of the European Community and representatives of the Arab states.

The executive council also promised to review the matter one more time when it convenes in September. The General Conference cannot admit new members without the council’s approval.

The council said it would be guided by the director general’s report.

Mayor made clear in his interview with El Pais that he wants to encourage a U.S. decision to return to UNESCO, not create conditions sure to keep it out.

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