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US changes policy on Human Rights Council

In a break with the policy of the previous Bush administration, the United States is to work again with the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Mark Storella of the US mission to the United Nations in Geneva, told the Geneva-based council on Wednesday that his country "looked forward to participating in the council's deliberations" where it will be an active observer.

The US had always been critical of the council, which was established in 2006. The country has never sought a seat on the council and withdrew almost completely nine months ago, accusing it of bias against Israel and failure to confront human-rights abuses in a number of other countries.

Storella quoted President Barack Obama's promise to a joint session of the US Congress that "a new era of engagement has begun".

However, he made it clear that the US still had serious reservations about the council, in particular the politicisation of human rights and the singling out of Israel.

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