US to join group previously shunned for anti-Israel stances

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
May 13, 2010 04:10

 
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The Obama administration is preparing to join an international advisory group that the United States generally has shunned due to fears it would adopt anti-Israeli and anti-Western positions, US officials said Wednesday.

The officials told The Associated Press the administration plans to announce as early as this week that it will begin a formal relationship with the Alliance of Civilizations. The 5-year-old, UN-backed organization aims to ease strains between societies and cultures, particularly the West and Islam.

The Bush administration boycotted the group when it was founded in 2005 over because it feared the group would become a forum for bashing Israel and the United States. Those concerns were magnified a year later when the alliance released a report that officials in Washington said unfairly blamed Israel and the United States for many of the world's problems.

The decision to join grows out of Obama's desire to broaden US participation in international groups and improve its standing among Muslims. The officials said they had consulted closely with Israel on the decision to join the alliance. Israel has no plans to join, diplomats said.

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