Day two of Durban racism conference tries to get on track

Day two of Durban racism conference tries to get on trackGeneva  - Following opening events dominated by boycotts, walkouts and a divisive speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the United Nations conference against racism began its second day Tuesday, trying to refocus on the core issues.

Government officials and diplomats from various countries continued the delivery of their statements on progress accomplished since the first racism conference in 2001 in Durban, South Africa.

Also, small side conferences would take place, trying to highlight the plight of victims of racism around the world.

The 2001 conference was largely taken over by side events that had anti-Semitic overtones as well as intervention by some states during the official UN forum that contained offensive language towards Israel.

Ahmadinejad's speech prompted speedy condemnations from the UN and European capitals. European Union diplomats left the assembly hall during the speech in protest and the Czechs vowed not to return.

Several other Western nations, including the United States and Germany, had already boycotted the conference before it started.

The draft declaration had been approved by 189 countries last Friday, though some subsequently pulled out, citing concern that Israel would be singled out for criticism during plenary sessions of what is being called the Durban II conference.(dpa)