WASHINGTON, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. government would not attend a UN conference on racism next week in Geneva, Belgium, due to the language of its final document that could arouse criticism against Israel, said the State Department on Saturday.
"Unfortunately, it now seems certain these remaining concerns will not be addressed in the document to be adopted by the conference next week," State Department spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement. "Therefore, with regret, the United States will not join the review conference."
Preparations for the World Conference Against Racism, which is expected to review progress made in fighting racism since the last one in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, have been underway for months, but was shunned by former President George W. Bush's administration.
The Obama's government has shown some interest in attending the conference set on April 20-25, but urged for significant change to the draft text, including the removal of specific critical references to Israel.
The attendance to the conference also stirred controversies among the U.S. public, with pro-Israel groups opposing to it while human rights groups urging for it.
However, after weeks of debates, the State Department said that the final draft text still retains "troubling elements" to support for restrictions on free speech and affirm the conclusions drawn by the first World Conference Against Racism held in South Africa in 2001, where there were quarrels over the Middle East and the legacy of slavery.
Wood said that the 2001 document "singles out one particular conflict and prejudges key issues that can only be resolved in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians."
U.S. media reports said that the U.S. government's concern the conference may become the stage for another heated debate over Israel.