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Middle East talks break down at racism conference
( 2001-09-06 10:43 ) (7 )

Negotiators at the UN World Conference Against Racism broke off talks on the Middle East early Thursday after failing to agree on a new text, but mandated South Africa to produce another after daybreak, a European spokesman told AFP.

They are trying to salvage the conference in Durban, South Africa, after the United States and Israel walked out on Monday over harsh comments in an original draft text on the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians which they judged "offensive".

The talks, which had been scheduled to last until 6:00 am (0400 GMT), but ended around 1:00 am, "were not a success, but not a failure", maintained Belgian foreign ministry spokesman Koen Vervaeke.

"There was no rupture," he told AFP, adding that the European Union countries, which had earlier threatened to walk out if the negotiations failed, would remain in Durban to assess the final South African text.

That would be a "take it or leave it" text, another western source told AFP.

The negotiations had taken place between South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is chairing the conference, Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel as president of the EU Council, and representatives from Norway, Namibia and the Palestinian Authority, standing in for the Arab League. 



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