14 Aug 2009

Palau President says Uighur issue blown out of proportion

3:13 pm on 14 August 2009

Palau's President says his government's acceptance of former Guantanamo Bay detainees has been blown out of proportion.

Johnson Toribiong says an agreement to accept the Chinese Muslims or Uighurs held by the United States since 2001 should be finalised within the next week or so.

Mr Toribiong says Palau will take as many of the 13 Uighurs, whom the US captured in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as want to come.

He says accepting the Uighurs is a humanitarian imperative.

"It's our strong culture to take care of people who have not a place to go. If they drift into Palau by the force of the waves and winds, we take them. In this case these guys have been proven not to be enemy combatants and United States made a request so we are very proud and honoured to be able to assist a great power like the United States."

Johnson Toribiong says rumours that the US government is paying Palau to take the Uighurs are untrue.