The US has indicated that it is likely to boycott an upcoming UN conference on racism, saying a text drawn up for the event criticises Israel.

‘We're not going to further engage in Durban II,’ a senior State Department official said, referring to the conference scheduled for 20-24 April in Geneva.

A US delegation took part in the preparatory talks in Geneva on 16 February and made proposed changes to a resolution expected to be adopted at the conference, which Canada and Israel have said they would boycott.

The previous team of George W Bush had said last year it would not assist in the preparatory discussions, but new US President Barack Obama's administration sent a delegation to look at whether its participation is warranted.

A second US official said on the condition of anonymity that his government had tried to find a way to participate.

The conference was first held in Durban, South Africa a few days before the 11 September, 2001 attacks on the US, and against the backdrop of the second Palestinian intifada.

Israel and the United States walked out on the fourth day of the conference in protest against attempts by Arab nations to adopt a resolution which they claim equates Zionism with racism.

The second US official said the United States had been interested in a document that was shorter than the one eight years ago and would not single out a particular country.