Mbeki opens World Conference Against Racism

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- South African President Thabo Mbeki, Friday called on participants at the World Conference Against Racism to "discuss practical means" of eliminating forever "the anachronistic images of black and brown ghettos of poverty" existing in the world.
Mbeki, who chaired the formal opening of the third world Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), said slave trade, colonialism and apartheid, the most recent forms of racism no longer existed in their original forms.
He, however, noted that millions of men, women and children continued to pay a heavy price because of the extreme misery brought on them by these human deviations.
The concern of this Conference should be to give these millions of victims of the most despicable forms of racism new reasons for hope, the South African leader said.
Without forgetting the past, he said, the UN Conference should give utmost priority to the new struggle against poverty, which leads to exclusion and constitutes the most serious violation of human dignity.
The persistence of poverty in the South and parts of the North, he said, were unacceptable since it has been proven that humanity has all the human, technical and material resources necessary to overcome or, at least, considerably alleviate the blight.
Mbeki, who was addressing other heads of State and the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, also seized the opportunity to thank, on behalf of the South African people, "the entire international community for its decisive contribution in the fight against apartheid and its dismantling".
He also thanked all those who sent him condolence messages on the death of his father, Govan Mbeki, 91, on the eve of the opening of the Durban Conference.
Foreign leaders at the opening of the Conference included Presidents Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo, as well as the PLO chairman Yasser Arafat and the Gabonese Vice President Dijob Divungi-Ndingue.
Presidents Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Abdel Aziz Bouteflika of Algeria, Joseph Kabila of the DR Congo and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, were also being expected at the Conference.
Meanwhile, the US has finally decided to send a low-level delegation to the Conference after Secretary of State Collin Powell declined to attend because of the equation of Zionism with racism by the Arab world.
Congresswomen Barbara Lee of California is leading the American delegation.

31 august 2001 14:17:00




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