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The United States won't participate in a U.N. conference on racism in April unless the final document is changed to drop all references to Israel and criticism of religion, a senior U.S. official said Friday.
The conference is a follow-up to the contentious 2001 conference in the South African city of Durban, which was dominated by clashes over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery. The U.S. and Israel walked out midway through that eight-day meeting over a draft resolution that singled out Israel for criticism and likened Zionism — the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state — to racism
The Obama administration would reconsider its position if the document improves in a number of areas including dropping references to any specific country, references to defamation of religion which the U.S. views as a free speech issue, and language on reparations for slavery. It also wants a shorter text and does not want the final document for Durban II to reaffirm the final document from the 2001 Durban conference, the U.S. official said.