Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni that his country would not participate in the international anti-racism conference in Geneva - known as 'Durban 2' – out of fears that the event was being used as an anti-Israeli forum.
Italy was one of a number of European Union members who expressed concerns in recent weeks that the international event would focus on censuring Israel and thus divert attention from the real problems of racial discrimination.
Italy and other EU countries recently stepped up their opposition to attempts by certain countries to shield Islam from criticism and attack Israel disproportionately, pursuant to a draft of a conference agenda that calls for equating criticism of a religious faith with a violation of human rights and characterizes Israel as a racist and occupying nation.
Last week, US President Barack Obama's administration sent two representatives to Geneva to attend negotiations of the draft document and, following the meeting, announced its intention to boycott the event unless the anti-Israel references were dropped.
On Thursday, Frattini also said he has decided to cancel his visit to Iran. In recent weeks, several western governments including Israel's had urged him to do so.