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Susan Rice
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'We'll fight anti-Israel sentiment in Human Rights Council'
US ambassador to United Nations says Washington's bid to rejoin human rights council meant to stop its 'obsession' with Israel; adds Durban II statement still problematic

WASHINGTON – US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said that the new US administration wants to rejoin the sometimes troubled UN Human Rights Council, to – among other things – "battle the anti-Israel crap."

 

In an interview with Politico website, Rice discussed US President Barack Obama's decision to have the US become a part of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) once again, saying the move is meant to change the council's agenda and decrease its "obsessive" attempts to isolate Israel, in favor of dealing with human right violation in other parts of the world, such as Sudan, Myanmar and Zimbabwe.

 

Rice also told the website the administration is still considering attending the controversial Durban II UN anti-racism conference this month, where US pressure has won a "substantially improved" draft text, she said.

 

Nevertheless, she made it clear that no final decision has been made on US attendance, since the draft still contains "substantial problems."

 

On a larger scale, Rice said the UNHRC bid has been part of a renewed push to end the killing in Darfur, and an administration drive to prevent a North Korean missile test.

 

"There's just enormous goodwill and optimism," said Rice. "I'd say even excessive expectations about President Obama and what his administration can bring."

 

Rice also forcefully rejected what has emerged as an early knock on Obama's foreign policy: That his team, notably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have appeared to downplay human rights concerns, from China to Turkey to Egypt, in favor of more practical issues.

 

"The whole point is we need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We don't have the luxury of viewing every issue, every country, every challenge in black and white terms. That was, in my opinion, part of the fallacy of the Bush Administration," she said. "But there are ways and means of accomplishing that. It's not always in every instance most productive to do it on a huge stage beating a drum - sometimes it is."

 

"Whether it's Russia or Egypt or China or Zimbabwe, strong advocacy for human rights and democracy will be part of our approach."

 

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