Australia threatens 'Durban II' boycott

Foreign Affairs Minister Smith: So long as draft leads to anti-Semitic harangue, we won't attend.

stephen smith aussie fm 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
stephen smith aussie fm 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Australia threatened on Thursday to withdraw from the upcoming United Nations anti-racism conference, dubbed "Durban II," due to anti-Semitic overtones evident in the conference's current draft statements. "The Australian government will give very careful consideration to what, if any, changes are made to the text to see whether it is appropriate for Australia to participate in the conference," Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith said. "If we form the view that the text is going to lead to nothing more than an anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic harangue and anti-Jewish propaganda exercise, then Australia will not be in attendance," he said. Durban II, set to be held in Geneva April 20-24, is a follow-up to the UN World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which took place in 2001 in Durban, South Africa. Israel, the United States, Canada and Italy have announced their intention to boycott the Geneva conference. Italy's announcement came during a meeting in Brussels between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini. The four countries are concerned that the second event, much like the first, will single out Israel. There are concerns regarding other issues as well, such as the defamation of religion and infringement of free speech. Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.