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Ahmadinejad says Israel leading cause of racism; U.S., Australia boycott racism conference

US, Australia to Shun UN Racism Conference

The United States announced Saturday it will not attend a United Nations conference on racism set to start Monday in Geneva.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood says the U.S. will boycott the conference "with regret" because of objectionable language in the meeting's draft declaration.

Wood said that despite some improvements, it seemed clear the declaration will not address U.S. concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression.

Still, he said the United States "will work with all people and nations" to put an end to racism and discrimination.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement Sunday that Canberra has also decided to boycott the conference, because Australia is concerned that the meeting will be used as a platform to air offensive views, including anti-Semitic views.

Smith said Canada will also skip the conference. European Union members have yet to decide whether they will attend.

The five-day meeting is a follow-up to a 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa. The United States and Israel walked out of those talks over an attempt by some participants to link Zionism with racism.

Press TV - Iran lambastes Zionist Israelis for sowing the seeds of racism, which has led to a leap in heinous hate crimes committed throughout the world.

"Wars, aggression, unfair political and economic relations, terror and occupation are the outcomes of racist theology -- the frontrunner of which is Israel," Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told reporters in Tehran on Sunday ahead of his departure for Geneva where he plans to take part in a UN anti-racism summit.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

The president described Zionism as a clear manifestation of racism and said that "Zionists seek to take control of the world's political and media centers in order to loot and belittle nations."

The scheduled attendance of Ahmadinejad at the UN-backed "Durban II" conference and his planned talks with Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz has sparked fury in Tel Aviv, which views the Iranian chief executive as "a holocaust denier."

Israeli officials, in recent weeks, have stepped up efforts to persuade European countries to follow in the footsteps of Canada, Israel, Italy, Australia and the United States, and boycott the meeting.

The US, which had initially announced that it would take part in the conference, revealed it final stance on Saturday. "With regret, the United States will not join the review conference," said State Department spokesman Robert Wood, citing objectionable language in the meeting's draft declaration.

... Payvand News - 04/19/09 ... --

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