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June 10, 2009

Palau Agrees To Accept Chinese Muslims Held At Guantanamo

Palau Island

President Barack Obama ordered that Guantanamo be shut down by January 2010. Since the order came down U.S. diplomat Daniel Fried has been leading the U.S. State Department’s efforts to resettle the Guantanamo detainees.

After months of negotiations, Palau President Johnson Toribiong said on Wednesday that his government would be “honored and proud” to take in the  17 Uighur Chinese Muslim prisoners who have been held for years at the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for suspected terrorist acts. The Bush administration refused to designate the Uighurs as “enemy combatants” but would not release them.  In late 2008 a U.S. federal judge ordered the men to be released into the United States. That ruling was eventually overturned by an appeals court.

Sandra Pierantozzi, Palau’s minister of state says her nation is glad to have the Uighurs. “If they want to settle in Palau we would welcome them,” Pierantozzi said. “This is very much in line with the culture of Palau, where people who drift in and who needs settlement and place are welcome to our shores and our tradition will take care of them and insert them into our society.

The Uighurs are from China’s western Xinjiang province and Beijing has accused the Uighurs — who dominate the province — as separatists who want to create an independent “East Turkestan.” The Uighurs are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia.

Washington is refusing to send the Uighurs back to China, fearing they would be persecuted.

Pierantozzi says her nation is not concerned over China’s likely displeasure over the resettlement of the Uighurs. “We continue to conduct business as usual, we are a free sovereign country, we are free to make decisions for us, as we believe and see for our benefit,” Pierantozzi said, “and also we are a small country but we are a part of the United Nations and the world community of nations, so we try to do our part.”

The Pacific island nation of Palau is located southeast of The Philippines, south of Guam and north of Indonesia.  Palau is a former U.S. trust territory who has been independent since 1994 and maintains diplomatic relations with Taiwan, China’s longtime rival, rather than Beijing.

It has been reported that the Palau government agreed to accept $200 million in aid from the U.S. in exchange for accepting the Uighurs. 

November 30, 2008

Dr. Susan Rice To Be Nominated As US Ambassador To The United Nations

susan-rice Susan Rice, a Barack Obama confidant is reportedly the president-elect’s leading candidate for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

ABC News reports that an announcement on Rice will come this week.

The network appears to have an inside track on the story – Rice’s husband, a former Canadian journalist – Ian Cameron, is the executive producer of ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”

Rice, 44, was a member of President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council and the former assistant secretary of state for African affairs under Madeleine Albright.

She was, in fact, an Albright protégé and in 1997, advanced ahead of several more senior officials to become one of the youngest assistant secretaries of state ever.

Rice served as a senior foreign policy adviser to Obama during his presidential campaign. She’s been a vocal critic of the current administration’s stance on Darfur, describing it as a policy of “bluster and retreat.”

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in April 2007, Rice said the U.S. should take military against Sudan if the genocide in Darfur continued.

“Some might argue that it’s unthinkable in the current context,” she testified. “Yet to allow another state to deter the U.S. by threatening terrorism would set a terrible precedent. It would also be cowardly and, in the face of genocide, immoral.”

Rice’s acumen on African affairs would be an obvious asset for the UN position. Roughly two-thirds of all discussions at the UN Security Council regard situations in Africa.

“She was one of the few people to live in the foreign-policy world who understood global issues, transnational issues like human rights, climate change and terrorism,” Tim Wirth, head of the United Nations Foundation, said recently of Rice.

Wirth worked with Rice when she was at the National Security Council.

Rice and her husband married in Washington in 1992 after meeting at Stanford University. They have two children.

Rice worked in Toronto in the early 1990s as an international management consultant at McKinsey and Company while Cameron was employed by the CBC in the same city as a producer.

A Rhodes Scholar, Rice received the National Security Council’s Samuel Nelson Drew Memorial Award for distinguished contributions to the formation of peaceful, co-operative relationships between countries, and to U.S. security policy for global peace.

The Washington, D.C. born Rice has said that as a young girl, she “dreamed of becoming the first U.S. senator from the District of Columbia.”

Like all U.S. ambassadors, Rice must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The current UN ambassador is Zalmay Khalilzad, who succeeded acting ambassador Alejandro Daniel Wolff.

Wolff temporarily replaced John Bolton, who resigned in the face of poor confirmation prospects after the 2006 mid-term elections returned a Democratic majority.

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