Clinton asks Major for use of islands

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PRESIDENT Bill Clinton has asked Britain for approval to use the Turks and Caicos islands to 'screen' refugees from Haiti, the Prime Minister's office said last night, writes Colin Brown.

The Foreign Office has approached the government of the Turks and Caicos, a group of islands 50 miles south-east of the Bahamas, which form a British dependent colony.

The request was made by President Clinton when he spoke by telephone to John Major about his forthcoming visit to Britain for the D-Day memorial ceremony. Officials said Mr Major made it clear it was a matter for the government of the islands. They said the United States is considering other alternatives.

The processing centre would allow US authorities to interview Haitians to determine whether they qualified for political asylum. If the government agreed to co-operate, the processing could be done aboard ships docked or anchored off-shore.