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Russia says UN conference should improve fight against racism


MOSCOW, April 21 (RIA Novosti) - The United Nations conference on racism which opened in Geneva on Monday should give an impetus to the struggle against intolerance, a Russian deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday.

"The Russian Federation urges the conference to give a fresh strong momentum to uniting efforts to fighting racism and racial discrimination," Alexander Yakovenko said in a statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website.

Yakovenko has also called on conference participants to "understand their responsibility for the further development of the event and show political will to reach mutually beneficial decisions."

More than 100 countries approved on Tuesday a final declaration urging the fight against racism.

"The hopes of millions of victims are pinned to the implementation of this document, but the noblest charter is reduced to empty rhetoric if the commitments it enshrines are given no practical effect," High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said.

The consensus came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Israel a "racist" country. The statement led to a walkout from the conference by a number of EU delegates.

Israel withdrew its ambassador to Switzerland in protest at an earlier meeting between the Swiss and Iranian presidents this weekend and said the conference was "hosting a Holocaust-denying racist who openly declared his intention to wipe Israel off the map."

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