US threatens to completely withdraw from WCAR

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- The issue of Zionism continues to dog the World Conference Against Racism in Durban as the United States, which has come under enormous criticism for refusing to send Secretary of State Colin Powell to the gathering, on Sunday threatened to completely withdraw from the event.
A team of middle-level US diplomats, headed by Michael Southwick, is attending the event in a move viewed as a last- ditch attempt to spare complete embarrassment to the US, which has snubbed two previous UN-sponsored anti-racism conferences.
However, Californian congressman Tom Lantos who is part of the US delegation, told state television in South Africa that it would seriously consider pulling out if it continued to be sidelined at the conference by extremists in the Arab and Muslim world.
Lantos called for language equating Zionism with racism to be completely removed from the agenda.
"If the extremists succeed in keeping it in, we will have nothing to do with this document.
We will not sign it," he said.
Although the US has come under fire from many heads of state and delegates for its stance on the Israeli question, conference officials have tried to keep the peace.
Earlier in the day, there were angry outbursts at a human rights forum when language equating Zionism with racism and calls for international sanctions against Israel were adopted in a declaration which will be incorporated in the conference document.
Meanwhile, US civil rights veteran Jesse Jackson on Sunday called on US President George W.
Bush to immediately convene both Premier Ariel Sharon of Israel and Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organisation to resume negotiations towards a peaceful resolution of the Middle East peace process.
"I urge both parties in the conflict to move forward from the politics of blame and labelling to the politics of reconciliation and peace.
There is too much anger on both sides.
"The language of fear does not resolve conflicts, nor provide solutions.
All parties in the conflict must maintain a commitment to peace, which requires a preference of negotiation to violence," Jackson said.

02 september 2001 13:33:00

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