European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday urged the United States to maintain funding for UN agencies, saying relief work was sometimes more important for peace than defense spending.
Mogherini delivered the message during a meeting of the UN Security Council that she also used to highlight EU support for the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
"Let me be very clear, and speak directly to our American friends," Mogherini told the council meeting attended by US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
"It is essential for us that we all keep investing in these UN agencies. They are as important to global peace as defense spending -- and sometimes even more."
The administration of US President Donald Trump is weighing deep cuts to its budget for diplomacy and foreign aid while seeking a $54 billion boost in military spending.
The United States is the biggest contributor to the United Nations, paying 22 percent of the $5.4 billion core budget and 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget.
Mogherini argued that supporting the United Nations was for European countries a "crucial investment in our security", stressing that voluntary contributions from EU countries amounted to half of the total UN budget.
European Union countries "proudly and smartly invest" in the World Food Program, the UN children's agency UNICEF and the Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, Mogherini noted.
She expressed hope that the United States will remain committed to the Paris Agreement, noting that all signatories develop their own action plans for meeting the limits on carbon emissions.
"I am sure there is room for the US administration to find its own path, being part of what the world has agreed together," said Mogherini.
A White House meeting of Trump's top aides to discuss the climate deal was postponed on Tuesday as capitals awaited a decision on whether the United States -- the world's second largest polluter after China -- will pull out of the agreement.
Turning to the Iran nuclear deal that the administration has criticized, Mogherini stressed that the UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, had confirmed five times that it was being implemented by Tehran.
The Iran deal "set a milestone for non-proliferation, making everyone more secure -- in the region, in Europe and in the world," she asserted.
© 2017 AFP