(Washington) The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken pleaded on Wednesday for the return of the United States to UNESCO in order to counter China in particular.

“I really think we should go back to UNESCO,” the secretary of state told a US Senate committee.

“Not to give them a gift, but because what happens there really matters,” he said, citing in particular the debates within the Paris-based organization on artificial intelligence or in education.

The United States had withdrawn under former President Donald Trump from the UN’s education, science and culture agency in late 2018, in retaliation for what it said was an anti-Israeli bias. . They had already suspended payment of their dues in 2011 when the Palestinians became members.

“China is now the biggest contributor to UNESCO,” Mr. Blinken noted, and “we are not even at the table. It’s important that we go back.”

The US State Department has requested $150 million to fund this eventual return in the Biden administration’s 2024 budget proposal, which was recently submitted to Congress for approval.