ICRC chief meets Bush over abuses

The head of the International Red Cross has met US President George Bush to discuss concerns about detainees held in Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq - the first such meeting in 14 years.

    ICRC is alarmed at US treatment of prisoners in Cuba and Iraq

    Bush held talks with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Jakob Kellenberger in Washington on Monday, the Geneva-based agency revealed in a statement.
      
    It was the first meeting between a US president and the head of the humanitarian agency since the first Gulf war in 1991.
      

    ICRC concerns

    Their discussion "focused on ICRC concerns regarding US detention, the main challenges faced by the organisation in armed conflicts worldwide and an assessment of the contexts in which key ICRC operations take place", the statement said. 
      
    Kellenberger also met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Adviser Steven Hadley, ICRC spokesman Florian Westphal added. 
      

    "Some major concerns have not been addressed"

    Jakob Kellenberger,
    ICRC chief

    The ICRC chief is to visit Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon as well. The Pentagon is in charge of all detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Iraq. 
      
    Since Kellenberger's previous meetings with US officials a year ago, extracts of confidential ICRC reports to the US government criticising the treatment of detainees in Iraq, and at Guantanamo Bay, have been leaked to the media.
      
    Allegations of mistreatment

    Kellenberger had made it clear in December that "some major concerns have not been addressed" and the detention issue would be on his agenda in Washington.
      
    The United States has denied that detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been tortured or mistreated, after a newspaper report cited ICRC findings of torture during an inspection visit last June.
      
    The Red Cross agency has also been at odds with the US about the status of prisoners held in Guantanamo since the conflict in Afghanistan.
      
    Another confidential report by the humanitarian agency, leaked in the summer, denounced abuses inflicted on Iraqi prisoners at the US-run Abu Ghraib jail near Baghdad.

    SOURCE: AFP


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