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UN conference on racism gets underway without major players

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UN conference on racism gets underway without major players

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A major United Nations conference on racism has got underway in Geneva, but without any world leaders except the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
 
Its a headache for the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
 
Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland have boycotted the Durban II conference completely. Britain and the Czech Republic are not sending anyone higher than their ambassadors to Switzerland.
  
In his opening speech, Mr Ban criticised them for staying away. He added that the conference is carefully balanced and necessary to dispel growing tensions around the world which threaten to erupt into violence.
 
The fear is that it will become a platform for what US President Barack Obama called “hypocritical and counterproductive” antagonism towards Israel.
  
Israel has recalled its ambassador to Switzerland in protest at Ahmedinejad’s presence at the UN conference.
 
In the past he has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”, and questioned whether the Holocaust ever happened.