PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron will boycott a UN conference on the fight against racism next month over concerns about "anti-Semitic statements" at previous editions, the presidency said Friday, reports AFP.
The follow-up meeting of the Durban Conference, named after the South African city where the first edition was held in 2001, is scheduled to bring together world leaders on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York in September.
Several countries, including France, also boycotted follow-up meetings in 2009 and 2011. Canada, Israel, the UK, the United States and numerous European countries have already announced they are boycotting this year's meeting.
The French presidency said in a statement that Macron "has decided that France will not take part in the follow-up conference due to take place this year as he is concerned by anti-Semitic statements made within the Durban Conference."
The first Durban conference, from August 31 to September 8, 2001, just days before the terror attacks of September 11, was marked by deep divisions on the issues of anti-Semitism, colonialism and slavery.
Western countries believe that criticism of Israel and its occupation of the Palestinian territories frequently veered into open anti-Semitism.
The US and Israel walked out of the conference in protest at the tone of the meeting, including over plans to include condemnations of Zionism in the final text.
"France will continue to fight against all forces of racism and will be watching to make sure that the Durban follow-up conference is held in accordance with the founding principles of the United Nations," the French presidency said.
Macron has vowed to fight against anti-Semitism in all its forms and last year warned of "the unbearable resurgence of anti-Semitism in our Europe". The government has in recent days expressed concerned over anti-Semitic slogans at protests against Covid-19 restrictions.