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The Czech Republic issued a statement on Tuesday condemning Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech at a U.N. conference on racism in which he called Israel a "cruel and repressive racist regime".

The statement by the country holding the EU presidency was meant to underline the bloc's unity but highlighted divisions on the issue.

Although 22 member states said they would stay to the end of the Geneva conference, four others have not attended from the start and the Czech Republic has decided to play no further role in the meeting.

The failure of member states to agree on a joint position shows how hard it is for the bloc to reach agreement on a common foreign and security policy now that it comprises 27 countries.

Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said the decision of some EU member states to boycott the Geneva conference was "no sign of strength in the EU at this time".

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Tue Apr 21st, 2009 at 04:56:57 PM EST
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