The United States has accepted an offer by Ted Turner, the founder of CNN, to pay the 35-million dollar difference between what Washington owes the United Nations and what Congress is willing to pay, the television station said Friday.
Turner's offer apparently helped the US ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, reach an agreement with Europe on paying the arreats in exchange for a drop in annual US dues from 25 to 22 percent, CNN said.
Negotiations between the US and Europe over Washington's contribution to the UN budget extended past midnight Thursday.
As of October 31, the US owed the world body 1.586 billion dollars, according to UN calculations, but only 926 million by the US Congress' estimate.
Ted Turner's 35-million dollar contribution apparently bridged the gap between what US lawmakers were willing to pay and Washington's new annual dues based on a 22 percent assessment of the UN's annual budget.
The Washington Post said Friday that during the negotiations, Holbrooke had promised the US would voluntarily pay the remaining 35 million dollars if a deal was reached, but that he did not disclose that billionaire Turner had offered to cover it.
Turner, 62, had already pledged one billion dollars to help UN agencies in September 1997.
Separately, Europe, the United States and other wealthy nations have been locked in a marathon negotiating session since Monday to make changes to the UN contribution scale, which Holbrooke had made a top priority.
The talks focused not only reducing US contributions to the UN's ordinary budget (1.08 billion dollars per year), but also the peacekeeping budget, which at 2.2 billion in 2000, is twice as large -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)