Having involved itself anew in world affairs in the aftermath of deadly terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US has since wrestled with the issue of balancing a need for objective justice for individuals with that of maintaining its security from future such acts. The American military base at Guantanamo Cuba has served as a holding tank for accused terrorists, and political controversy combined with detainees lack of due legal process has riled many American partisans.
Into this fray stepped the recent new Administration headed by President Barack Obama and supported by a Democrat-led US Congress, only to eventually adopt measures for prisoner detention quite alike those of the preceding Administration of President George W. Bush, who established related US policy in 2001.
Today ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper reports
that the Obama Administration has engaged the island nation of Palau in negotiations aimed at resettling up to 17 Uyghurs in the remote country.
The United States has struck a notional deal with the tiny island nation of Palau, located near the Philippines, to take in up to 17 detainees from Guantanamo who have been cleared for release, according to US officials.
Just a few days ago, the Obama administration asserted before the Supreme Court that the Uyghurs have no right to come to America despite a district judge's orders last Fall that they immediately be brought to the U.S. and released.
The United States does not want to send the Uyghurs, a Muslim Chinese ethnic group, back to China where Washington fears they would likely be persecuted for their opposition to the Beijing government.
Palau and the US have an agreement
(PDF file) that provides for mutual security and advantages such as ease of access to the nation by Americans. Palau lies triangulated approximately equidistant between the Philippines, the island of Guam, and Papau New Guinea.
How remote Palau was selected for such an unusual task as US prisoner detention is not mentioned, nor is how holding prisoners in Palau will differ from holding them in Cuba.
Of interest to world travelers is the fact that such a situation could have significant impact on Palau. While not a well-travelled tourist or work destination, Palau nonetheless has enjoyed a share of international attention. In the late sixties the islands hosted a major motion picture production and more recently served as the backdrop for episodes of the popular television series Survivor.
As a sovereign nation, Palau conducts its own foreign relations.
Since independence, Palau has established diplomatic relations with a number of nations, including many of its Pacific neighbors. Palau was admitted to the United Nations on December 15, 1994, and has since joined several other international organizations. In September 2006, Palau hosted the first Taiwan-Pacific Allies Summit, and its President has gone on several official visits to other Pacific countries, including the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Palau's most populous islands are Angaur
, and Peleliu
. The latter three lie together within the same barrier reef
, while Angaur is an oceanic island several miles to the south. About two-thirds of the population live on Koror. The coral atoll
is situated north of these islands, while the uninhabited Rock Islands
(about 200) are situated to the west of the main island group. A remote group of six islands, known as the Southwest Islands
, some 375 miles (600 km) from the main islands, are also part of the country and make up the states of Hatohobei and Sonsorol.
Photo also courtesy of Wikipedia.