US boycotts UN racism conference

April 19th, 2009 - 6:25 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 19 (DPA) The US said Saturday that it would boycott a UN conference on racism because of differences over Israel and the right to free speech.
The conference, known as Durban II and to begin in Geneva Monday, has been plagued with disagreement, with Canada and Israel earlier boycotting the event over fears Muslim nations will focus exclusively on the Jewish state’s treatment of Palestinians.

The United States said that although the document to be discussed at the conference had been modified, there were some parts that remained unacceptable to it.

The text “still contains language that reaffirms in toto the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) from 2001, which the United States has long said it is unable to support,” State Department spokesman Robert Wood said.

The DDPA “singles out one particular conflict and prejudges key issues that can only be resolved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians,” he said.

Israel and the US left in the middle of the original conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, after the Jewish State was targeted for criticism and its founding ideology, Zionism, came under attack.

Wood said the US also had “serious concerns” with new additions to the draft declaration regarding “‘incitement,’ that run counter to the US commitment to unfettered free speech.”

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