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

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Azoulay now faces Qatar's Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in a final vote scheduled for Friday evening.

American Jewish groups are increasingly concerned that Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, the Qatari candidate for the next director-general of UNESCO - the UN's educational, scientific and cultural organization - is growing closer to achieving his goal following his success in Tuesday's second round of voting for the post.

Spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks when asked to comment on the decisions of the US and Israel to withdraw from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

In March, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre wrote an open letter to German Ambassador Michael Worbs, chair of the UNESCO Executive Board, to criticize the organization for accepting al-Kawari's candidacy.

UNESCO's general assembly will have to sign off next month on the executive board's leadership pick, but it's seen as a formality.

Three other candidates remain in the fray - Azerbaijan's Polad Bulbuloglu, Guatemala's Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria, and Vietnam's Pham Sanh Chau. "Audrey!" following her victory and said the response to UNESCO's problems was to reform the agency, not to walk away - an understated rebuke of the US and Israel.

Both countries suspended their funding to the agency - best-known for its prestigious World Heritage List - over the move, and on Thursday announced that they would withdraw from the organization.

Greenberg and Hoenlein said Al-Kawari had violated UNESCO's fundamental values by "endorsing, encouraging, sponsoring and supporting projects and programs with blatant anti-Semitic content".

Arab countries have long wanted to lead the organization, but the Palestine issue has complicated the election.

Declining to reveal why China withdrew its candidate Qian Tang, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here that China backs UNESCO in selecting a director general qualified according to the United Nations body's rules and regulations and meets the expectations of all its members.

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