World

Pacific island agrees to accept Chinese Muslims from Guantanamo

The remote Pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to resettle up to 17 Chinese Muslims being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba.

The remote Pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to resettle up to 17 Chinese Muslims being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba.

Palau President Johnson Toribiong told the Associated Press in a statement that his government had "agreed to accommodate the United States of America's request to temporarily resettle in Palau up to 17 ethnic Uighur detainees ... subject to periodic review."

Toribiong said his country is "honoured and proud" to resettle the detainees, who have been found not to be "enemy combatants." His archipelago has a population of about 20,000.

Palau, made up of eight main islands plus more than 250 islets, is best known for diving and tourism and is located about 800 kilometres east of the Philippines in the Pacific Ocean.

The Uighur detainees are Muslims from western China. The United States has said it cannot repatriate them to China because they face punishment there.

U.S. officials asked Toribiong on June 4 to accept some or all of the 17 Uighur detainees due to fierce U.S. congressional opposition to releasing them on U.S. soil.

Last week, CBC News reported that Canada turned down a request by the U.S. government to admit some of the 17 Uighur detainees still held at Guantanamo. They are Muslims from western China who have been cleared for release by the Pentagon after U.S. courts ruled their detention was illegal.

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