World

Australia may follow Canada out of UN racism conference

Australia is the latest country threatening to withdraw from a United Nations conference on racism in April, saying it won't support a document it calls hostile to Israel, Reuters reports.

Australia is the latest country threatening to withdraw from a United Nations conference on racism in April, saying it won't support a document it calls hostile to Israel, Reuters reports.

The Australian threat echoes statements by other countries concerned that the final declaration will be used to criticize Israel.

"If we form the view that the text is going to lead to nothing more than an anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic harangue, an anti-Jewish propaganda exercise, Australia will not be in attendance," Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told the Australian Parliament Thursday.

Israel has called for a boycott of the World Conference Against Racism, which takes place in Geneva from April 20 to 24.

Canada and Italy have already withdrawn from the conference, and the United States has said it will not attend unless the final declaration is radically altered.

Critics also say some sections of the document could limit freedom of religion or speech.

In 2001, the U.S. and Israel walked out of the first UN conference on racism in Durban, South Africa, in protest over a resolution comparing Zionism to racism.

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