China withdraws its candidate for Khattab's sake in UNESCO vote

Violet Powell
October 14, 2017

Paris-based UNESCO, which began work in 1946, is known for designating World Heritage sites such as the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the Grand Canyon National Park.

The victor must be confirmed by the UNESCO general conference next month and will replace outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova in January 2018. The victor has then to be granted approval from the organization's 195 member states in November.

They are divided between backers of oil-rich Qatar and its poorer rival Egypt, which is part of a Saudi-led coalition that has been blockading Qatar since June over its alleged support for radical Islamists and ties to Iran.

The Qatari and French candidates, Hamad bin Abd elaziz alKawari and Audrey Azoulay garnered 18 votes each, Khattab garnered 13 votes, China's candidate Qian Tang 5 votes, and Lebanon's Vera El Khoury Lacoeuilhe 4 votes.

There have been four rounds of voting already and another two are expected to produce a victor on Friday.

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The ministry said the request made Friday was submitted by Egypt's permanent mission to UNESCO.

Qatar has lobbied intensely for the post - and has increased its financial contribution to support UNESCO in recent years - but its candidate has been dogged by old allegations of anti-Semitism.

The decision will not go into effect until December 2018 and there is some speculation that the USA could change its mind if UNSCO ends its politicized behavior and takes steps to reform the organization.

"We will continue in the electoral process until the end with all resolve and determination", Khattab said.

Arab countries have long wanted to lead UNESCO.

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