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01 September, 2001
European Union countries will come down with a joint position on demands for reparations to countries that have been victims of colonial racism, as well as a resolution condemning Israel's stance to the Palestinians, Alternate Foreign Minister Elisavet Papazoi said here on Friday.
Papazoi is currently in South Africa at the head of a Greek delegation attending a UN World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia and related intolerances that began in Durban on Friday.
"We believe that achieving some agreement would be better than a lack of unanimity, which would lead to texts being adopted by minorities at the forum," she said.
The minister also commented on the controversy that has cast a cloud over the meeting as a result of the two demands, objected to by Israel and the US.
"I don't think it will help our central goal if the conference takes such as decision in the absence of the US, increasing the distance between the US and the international community. A second US absence after Kyoto is not in our interest," Papazoi said.
Israel has boycotted the gathering in Durban, while the US has sent only a low-level delegation. The US has announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell would be staying away, while Canada's foreign minister John Manley followed suit on Thursday.
The US may take no official part in the debate at all unless the wording of draft texts branding Israel as racist is changed.
The US and European countries are also concerned about references to colonial racism and slavery, for which many African countries are demanding an apology and possible reparations.
Both have firmly ruled out anything that might expose them to expensive lawsuits.
Source: Athens News Agency