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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 20:09 GMT 21:09 UK
Racism summit turmoil: Reactions
Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Durban
Israel said the conference agenda had been hijacked
The US and Israeli withdrawal from the UN conference on racism triggered widespread dismay. Their move was in protest at attempts by Arab and Islamic countries to single out Israel for condemnation. The US and Israel voiced outrage over what they saw as anti-Israeli bias.

"The United States is the last country that should be criticised for the unfolding of the events at this conference. This conference has been wrecked by Arab and Islamic extremists." Congressman Tom Lantos, member of US delegation

"The Durban conference is a farce... The Arab League, all of it, has come out against peace." Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres

"I truly regret the decision of the United States to leave the conference. Nevertheless, I believe that the journey we have begun must continue until the end of the conference, with a view to achieving a successful outcome." Spokeswoman for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson

"The South African Government views the withdrawal of the US delegation or any other delegation as unfortunate and unnecessary. It will be unfortunate if a perception were to develop that the USA's withdrawal from the conference is merely a red herring demonstrating an unwillingness to confront the real issues posed by racism." South African Government

"In many ways, the American delegation never walked in." Reverend Jesse Jackson, US civil rights leader

"Amnesty International regrets the US decision to pull out of the conference. The world racism conference goes way beyond the conflict in the Middle East. By walking out in the middle of the conference, the US is letting down the victims of racism on all sides." Amnesty spokeswoman Maya Catsanis

"This conference presents a unique opportunity for the nations of the world to define, condemn and repair racism and discrimination. The United States should be a part of that process and its absence and departure is a disappointment to victims everywhere." Spokesman for New York-based Human Rights Watch

"It's sad. It's sad they didn't leave room for dialogue, they didn't leave room for flexibility... Their withdrawal will not affect the success of the conference." Palestinian ambassador Salman al-Herfi

"This conference is an opportunity to address racism and xenophobia in the world. The problem of the Middle East should not have been imported into the conference." UK Foreign Office spokesman

The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"US disapproval of the way this conference has been going has been clear"
US delegate and holocaust survivor Tom Lantos
"It will prove impossible for the US delegation to continue participating"
Palestinian Ambassador, Salman El-Herfi
"The US did not leave any room for democracy"
See also:

03 Sep 01 | Africa
US abandons racism summit
30 Jul 01 | Africa
Rows threaten racism conference
03 Sep 01 | Africa
Focus on the slave trade
10 Aug 01 | Middle East
Anger over Zionism debate
03 Sep 01 | Europe
Europe split over slavery row
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