Hague's Guantanamo plea overshadows Middle East talks

A day after announcing it was to pay millions in tax-payers' money to compensate a group of 16 men who were detained and allegedly tortured by American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, the Government last night implored the US to free the last Briton remaining there.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, made the appeal during talks with the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in Washington. The issue has attracted a broad mix of reactions in the US, not all of them exactly in tune with the "special relationship" that the two countries insist they enjoy.

Later, after being probed by students at Georgetown University about the decision to pay compensation, Mr Hague hinted that the request for the release of British national Shaker Aamer, one of the men on the list for payment, had been received sympathetically. Officials with the Foreign Secretary declined to give further details on how Mrs Clinton responded.

"I have been discussing that with Secretary Clinton today and reiterated our position that we would like to see this gentleman returned to the United Kingdom and that is under consideration by the United States," Mr Hague told the students.

The meeting with Mrs Clinton also focused on the efforts of the US to bring Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table. Mrs Clinton would not comment on reports that the Israelis are holding out until security guarantees she gave them privately are expressed in writing.

"I can't get into details," Mrs Clinton said alongside Mr Hague at the State Department. "We are in close touch with both the Israelis and the Palestinians." She added that all sides were "working intensively to create the conditions" for the stalled talks to get underway again.

Washington has been pushing Israel to accept a new 90-day suspension in settlement construction in the West Bank. Israeli sources have said that guarantees made to Mrs Clinton in recent talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have drawn Palestinian objections and therefore need to be put on paper.

Mr Hague, in Washington initially to prepare with Mrs Clinton for this weekend's NATO summit in Lisbon, concurred on the importance of saving the peace talks. "There is a pressing need" for them to resume, he said, adding that the US was making a "tireless effort" to make it happen.

At Georgetown, Mr Hague's speech focused on Britain's determination to remain a force in foreign affairs. Its policies would draw strength from preserving the "moral advantage" over its adversaries. He added, however: "As a nation we are not immune from mistakes in foreign policy."

One senior member of the Obama administration admitted in private that he had been "flabbergasted" at Britain's decision to compensate the Guantanamo detainees. Others on the conservative right were similarly offended over the issue. "This is nothing more than appeasement through payment," complained Kirk Lippold, who was commander of the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen by al-Qaeda in 2000. "The British Government has chosen to surrender to the demands of terrorists and compromise their nation's, and our nation's, security."

By contrast, liberal voices such as the New York Times interpreted the move as an acknowledgement by the Government that it had colluded with the US post 9/11 on allowing the detainees, either Britons or legal residents in the UK, to be mistreated and illegally tortured.

"It will do no good for this nation's tarnished human rights reputation that at the same time Britain took responsibility for its comparatively minor role in the ill treatment of terrorism suspects, former President George W. Bush was bragging that he had personally authorised the repeated use of a form of simulated drowning," the paper said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future