Britain unlikely to boycott 2009 U.N. anti-racism parley


Britain does not intend to boycott the 2009 U.N. anti-racism conference, the foreign secretary indicated.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Britain does not intend at this stage to follow Israel and Canada in boycotting the U.N. Conference Against Racism, which last time around, in Durban, South Africa in 2001, became an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fest.

“Obviously, we are very concerned not to have a repeat of Durban I,” Miliband said in a meeting Thursday with reporters from Israeli and Jewish media. “We’re engaged in discussions at the moment,” he said, “but if it does become a Durban II than obviously we will have to harden our position.”

He also labeled as “madness” the initiatives of British college and university teachers union to boycott Israeli academic institutions and individual researchers.

Miliband also said his government is carefully monitoring the crisis in Israel in the wake of a new criminal investigation involving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. “We are watching very carefully,” he said. “It matters a lot.”

Speaking about renewed Israel-Palestinian peace talks, Miliband said the “next six to eight weeks will come to be seen as very important in the search for a sustainable solution in the Middle East.”

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