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UN conference

nrt/pfd, Reuters/ AFP/APApril 22, 2009

The UN anti-racism conference in Geneva has adopted a final declaration against racism and xenophobia, a day after an anti-Israel speech by Iran's president triggered a mass walkout.

Ban slammed Ahmedinejad's speech at the Durban Review ConferenceImage: AP

The passage of the final document was moved up to Tuesday from Friday because delegates said they didn't want isolated instances of intolerance and hatred to destroy the conference's broad consensus to condemn racism.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said agreement on the document amounted to a defeat for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmajinedad, who caused uproar from most of the delegates for his anti-Israel remarks during a speech on the opening day of the anti-racism talks.

Agency reports said the the final declaration made no mention of the Middle East conflict.

A spokeswoman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva said that he was "heartened that today all member states present in the Durban Review Conference adopted its outcome document by consensus."

She added that in approving the declaration, the international community had given "hope to the millions of victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance around the world."

The UN chief expressed regret however that various countries including the United States boycotted the meeting, and that an anti-Israel tirade by Iranian President Ahmadinejad prompted 23 European Union delegations to walk out in protest.

"The fight against racism is a continuous process," Ban's statement continued.

"He therefore hopes that those member states who did not participate will rejoin the international community soon in the fight against the scourges of racism and racial discrimination."