Durban 2001 AP
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators marching during a protest at the UN conference on racism in Durban, August 31, 2001. Photo by AP
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Germany is to boycott a UN anti-racism conference in New York later this month because of anti-Semitic abuse at previous rounds of the event, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle's Berlin office announced Friday.

Israel has asked friendly nations to stay away from the September 22 event, which commemorates a UN meeting 10 years ago in Durban, South Africa. Germany's national Jewish body, the Central Council of Jews, also asked Germany not to attend.

"Unfortunately we cannot rule it out that the meeting in New York will be abused for anti-Semitic statements as has happened at past conferences," said Westerwelle, who was in Sopot, Poland on Friday for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers.

"This is an expression of our special responsibility for Israel," added the statement, referring to Germany's moral obligation to make up for the Holocaust by going out of its way to support Israel.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has used past UN anti-racism meetings to heap abuse on Israel.

Germany boycotted a similar UN meeting in 2009 for the same reason.

The statement said opposing racism was a "core concern" in German human rights policy.