EU threatens boycott of UN 'Durban II' conference

The European Union said Monday it could boycott a UN conference on racism next month unless Muslim nations end attempts to strongly criticize Israel in the meeting's final document. Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU presidency, said EU nations were "very skeptical" over the direction of negotiations on a declaration being drafted for the so-called Durban II conference. He adds the 27-nation bloc will attempt to push for changes but "there is a strong call to withdraw" if they are not successful. Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said his country would not attend the April 20-25 meeting in Geneva unless "radical changes" were made to the draft text, which includes what he has called "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements." United States, Canada and Israel have also said they fear the UN talks will be marred by attempts to attack Israel and shield Islamic countries from criticism over their records. Washington has imposed conditions similar to EU nations' and Israel and Canada have already announced they will boycott.