WCAR officially starts in Durban

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- The World Conference Against Racism kicked off in earnest Friday morning with the opening ceremony in Durban.
Under threatening skies, UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan led a procession of 15 Heads of State and representatives of 150 NGOs into the giant Convention Centre where he was expected to make the opening address, to be followed by a speech from President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
Earlier, Mbeki hosted an informal breakfast at the Centre for a number of Heads of State, including Joseph Kabila of DR Congo and Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Other world leaders seen arriving under heavy security were Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Dennis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina Joso Krizanovic, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.
Also at the conference centre are Zambia's Frederick Chiluba, Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Cape Verde's Pedro Pires, Latvia's Vaira Vike-Freibanga, Panama's Dominador Kayser Bazan, Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Togo's Gnassingbe Eyadema.
As host of the event, South Africa is fielding a 75-member delegation, including deputy president Jacob Zuma, Foreign Affairs minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and ministers Penuell Maduna, Lindiwe Sisulu and Kader Asmal.
It is still unclear whether the US would take up its official seat at the conference, signalling that Washington would not boycott the conference as previously threatened by President George W Bush.
A team of middle-level American diplomats headed by Michael Southwick is attending the event, in a move viewed as a last- ditch attempt to spare Washington complete embarrassment after the US snubbed all previous three UN-sponsored conferences on racism.

31 august 2001 08:24:00

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