Powell unlikely to attend U.N. racism conference


U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is not likely to attend the U.N. conference on racism opening in South Africa this week because of language critical of Israel, a senior official said on Monday.

“There’s no final decision but it’s increasingly clear that the secretary won’t go. We’re still considering what kind of delegation to send to the conference, if any,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.

President George W. Bush said on Friday that the United States would not go to the conference in Durban at all if the participants “picked on” or denigrated Israel.

The U.S. official said American diplomats were still trying to amend the language on Israel to make it acceptable in Washington but he was not hopeful.

“The chances of achieving it in the next day or so are very small and not good enough to commit the secretary,” he added.

The racism conference begins on Friday.