04/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gibbs: "Unfortunate" That UN Head Would Call U.S. "Deadbeat" Donor

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it was "unfortunate" that the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon would call the United States a "deadbeat" donor to the United Nations because it was delinquent on its dues. Reminding the world body leader that the U.S. still contributes a greater portion of the UN budget than any other member-state, Gibbs suggested that the White House would like a retraction from Moon.

"Given the contribution that the American taxpayer makes, it would be appropriate to acknowledge that role," said the Obama spokesman. "And the president looks forward to working with the UN on future [issues]."

In the past administration, the payment of UN dues became a topic of contentious political debate, as the Bush White House and Republicans in Congress viewed the world body as deliberately antagonistic to U.S. foreign policy interests. Obama has pledged to be more cooperative with the international community at large and the UN in particular. But Moon's statement -- meant, he said, to draw attention to the fact that the U.S., which pays 22 percent of the UN's operating budget, is $1 billion behind on its payments -- does not lend itself to a smooth reconciliation.