U.S. Considers Participating in Durban II

17 02 2009

Talk about trying to fly under the radar. Less than 24 hours after Congress passed the biggest spending bill in U.S. history, the State Department issues a press release announcing its considering participating in the controversial Durban II conference in April 2009.

The State Department will send a delegation to the February 16-19 consultations for the World Conference Against Racism as a means of evaluating the current direction of Conference preparations and whether U.S. participation in the Conference itself is warranted.

This will be the first opportunity the Administration has had to engage in the negotiations for the Durban Review, and – in line with our commitment to diplomacy – the U.S. has decided to send a delegation to engage in the negotiations on the text of the conference document.

The intent of our participation is to work to try to change the direction in which the Review Conference is heading. We hope to work with other countries that want the Conference to responsibly and productively address racism around the world.

Our participation in these informal negotiations does not indicate – and should not be misconstrued to indicate – that the United States will participate in April in the World Conference Against Racism itself. Nor does it indicate that we will necessarily participate in future preparations for the Conference. These decisions will be taken at a later date, depending on the results that we see from the negotiating process.

Perhaps, emphasizing the fact that “informal negotiations” are not meant to be “construed” as a final decision concerning participation sounds way too noncommital for most people. But that should  come as no surprise to those who follow State Department pronouncements. Additionally, this is indeed a step up in clarity from just a few weeks ago. “I’ll have to take a look and see. I don’t think the new Administration has spoken to that issue yet, but I’ll take a look and see if we have any more we want to say on that,” said State Department spokesman Robert Wood when asked about pariticipating in Durban II.

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