19 Apr 2009

US to boycott UN racism conference

11:01 am on 19 April 2009

The United States has confirmed it will boycott a UN forum on racism in Geneva next week because of differences over Israel and the right to free speech.

The State Department said the proposed text of the conference's guiding document remained unacceptable despite having been amended significantly.

The BBC reports the United States and Israel quit a similar forum in Durban in 2001 when its draft document likened Zionism to racism.

Current language about "incitement to religious hatred" also alarms the US.

The five-day Durban Review Conference is due to open on Monday.

EU diplomats were still consulting on Saturday on whether to attend the conference. Canada and Israel said earlier that they would not attend.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the only prominent head of state so far scheduled to attend. He has repeatedly called the Holocaust of the Jews a "myth".