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NEW YORK - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan will deliver the opening address at an international conference on anti-Semitism at UN headquarters in New York on June 21.

The conference, titled "Confronting Anti-Semitism: Educating for Tolerance and Understanding," is the first on the topic orchestrated by the world body and held under its auspices.

The keynote speaker will be Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Other speakers include World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman, Anti-Defamation League director, Abraham Foxman, and the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Malcolm Hoenlein.

Annan's decision to open the proceedings was received in New York yesterday as evidence of the importance the UN attributes to the conference and its subject matter.

Some commentators countered that the initiative proves the UN is seeking to balance its image, particularly among American Jews, as an organization hostile to Israel and even anti-Semitic.

The conference is intended primarily for non-governmental organizations, and organizers anticipate hundreds of delegates, including diplomats from UN-member nations, clerics and academics from various countries.

Israel's Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Arye Mekel, who is involved in preparing the conference, told Haaretz yesterday that the event is "an important step by the United Nations, which shows that the world organization has acknowledged the need to correct its image in relations with Israel and Jews."

According to a senior World Jewish Congress official, Bronfman will call for a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning anti-Semitism, as well as an annual report on anti-Semitic incidents worldwide, and recommend that Annan appoint a special representative to deal with the topic.