Washington (ANTARA News/AFP) - The United States will not participate in the Durban III UN summit on racism in September this year, which commemorates ten years since the controversial 2001 Durban Declaration conference, officials confirmed Friday.

"We will not participate in the Durban commemoration. In December, we voted against the resolution establishing this event because we believe the Durban process includes displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we don`t want to see that commemorated," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

President Barack Obama`s administration informed lawmakers of the decision earlier this week, joining Canada and Israel in boycotting the event.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she was "gratified" by the decision.

She said it would be "like its predecessors... no doubt be hijacked by extremists and turned into an anti-Western, anti-Israel, anti-Semitic hatefest."

The commendations were bipartisan, with Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand saying it was "an insult to America that the United Nations has decided to hold the Durban III conference in New York City just days from the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks."

"We all witnessed how extreme anti-Semitic and anti-American voices took over Durban I and Durban II and we should expect the same thing to happen with Durban III," she said.

Israel joined the United States in opposing the UN General Assembly resolution in December that convened the follow-up to the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in the South African city of Durban.

The resolution passed by 104 votes to 22, with 33 abstentions.

The 2001 conference was marked by bitter disputes and walkouts over plans to include condemnations of Zionism in the final declaration. Israel and the United States walked out complaining of anti-Semitism.

Nine governments -- including Canada, the United States, Australia, Israel, Germany and Britain -- boycotted last year`s Durban II talks in Geneva over fears of anti-Semitism.

Iran`s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the conference as a platform to launch a virulent attack on Israel.
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Editor: Ella Syafputri
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