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Vatican, US religious express regret over US withdrawal

The Vatican and members of US religious congregations have expressed disappointment at the decision by the United States and Israel to pull out of the World Conference Against Racism.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Holy See's permanent observer to U.N. offices in Geneva, said he was sorry that US government decided to withdraw.

``I personally feel very sorry that a country, a nation, which has had a unique experience in the fight against racism, something quite constructive from which we could all learn, and an ongoing experience, that it didn't feel it could serenely take part in the conference and bring up a positive contribution,'' the archbishop said.

``This (conference) wasn't a tribunal to judge any individual country. The aim here was to stress the basic principles that would inspire a different co-existence among peoples,'' he said.