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Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Black Americans attack racism 'snub'
John Conyers, Eddie Bernice Johnson and Sheila Jackson at a news conference in Durban
The legislators denounced the Bush decision
By Barnaby Phillips in Durban

Black American leaders at the United Nations conference against racism taking place in South Africa have bitterly criticised their government for its refusal to send a senior delegation.

A statement from the Congressional Black Caucus, representing the 43 black members of the United States Congress, said the absence of an important American delegation implied contempt for the fight against racism.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Mr Powell is boycotting the conference
Black members of Congress - who are predominantly from the Democratic Party - say they are exasperated by the Bush administration's decision to send a junior delegation to this conference.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee from California said it was a slap in the face for black people that would not be forgotten.

The Bush administration objects to what it calls the anti-Israeli tone of the conference, but black American leaders feel this occasion is too important to ignore.

On Sunday in Durban they argued passionately in favour of reparations for slavery.

But European governments at the conference say they are not prepared to acknowledge that slavery was a crime against humanity, let alone pay compensation, and some prominent African leaders here say they are more interested in an apology than reparations.

See also:

27 Aug 01 | Americas
Powell boycotts UN racism summit
01 Sep 01 | Media reports
UN chief declares war on racism
29 Aug 01 | Americas
US lobbies racism conference
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