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Bush Firm On Boycotting UN Racism Conference If Zionism on Agenda

President Bush says the United States will boycott an international conference on racism if the discussion includes a proposal to portray Zionism as racism. The president says the United States will not take part in a conference that insults Israel.

This month's World Conference on Racism includes an Arab-backed proposal calling Zionism a form of racism. Zionism is the movement that helped create the modern state of Israel. The draft proposal equates Israel's treatment of the Palestinians with the Nazi Holocaust of World War II that killed six million Jews.

President Bush has asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to continue negotiations with conference organizers to have that language removed. If it is not, Mr. Bush stresses the United States will not take part in the conference. "We have made it very clear through Colin Powell's office that we will have no representative there so long as they pick on Israel, so long as they continue to say Zionism is racism," he said. "If they use the forum as a way to isolate our friend and strong ally, we will not participate."

The Zionism proposal seeks to revive a 1975 U.N. resolution saying the Jewish movement is racist because of its treatment of Palestinians. That resolution was repealed in 1991 in a move led by Israel and the United States.

Several heads of state are expected to attend the U.N. conference in Durban, South Africa. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is also expected to address the meeting, which is the first global meeting on racism in 18 years.