Italy pulls out of racism conference
ROME - Italy said yesterday it is pulling out of a UN conference on racism - the latest blow to a meeting seen by many Western governments as marred by Muslim attempts to attack Israel and shield Islam from criticism.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also decided to postpone a planned trip to Iran in protest over remarks against Israel and the US administration by Tehran's leadership, the ministry said in a statement.
Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels, Frattini said Italy has withdrawn its delegation from the preparatory negotiations ahead of the so-called Durban II conference due to "aggressive and anti-Semitic statements" in the draft of the event's final document.
Frattini's comments on the conference were reported by Italian news agencies and confirmed by Maurizio Massari, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
He said Rome would not participate in the conference unless the document was changed. "There are expressions of anti-Semitism," Massari said by telephone. "Until the document is modified we will not have a part in it."
The United States has imposed similar conditions. Israel and Canada have already announced a boycott.
Italy is the first EU country to officially withdraw from the conference, though other nations have threatened not to attend.