KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Kuwait disowned on Wednesday comments attributed to its interior minister calling for the death of its nationals held at the US Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.
“The interior minister has denied the report as mere lies,” Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah told reporters in response to the US diplomatic telegram leaked by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
The minister said the Kuwaiti side did not keep minutes of the reported meetings.
Interior Minister Jaber Khaled al-Sabah was quoted as telling the US ambassador that his country did not want to see the return of Kuwaiti suspects held in Guantanamo Bay and suggested “the best thing to do is get rid of them.”
The exchange between Sheikh Jaber and the US envoy to Kuwait, which took place in February last year, was recorded in a US State Department cable published by WikiLeaks on Tuesday.
“You know better than I that we cannot deal with these people,” the minister protested, arguing that Kuwait is a small and tight-knit society where family ties hold more sway than any legal measure he could take.
“You picked them up in Afghanistan. You should drop them off in Afghanistan — in the middle of the war zone.”
The foreign minister insisted, however, that “it is impossible to think that Kuwait will ever forget about its sons … detained in Guantanamo without trial.”
US Ambassador Deborah Jones also stepped in to clarify the Kuwaiti government position.
“I would like to make clear that the Kuwaiti government has been consistent in its request for the return of Kuwait’s remaining Guantanamo detainees,” Jones said in a statement sent by e-mail.
“Our discussions on this matter have centered around modalities that could help facilitate the release of individuals we believe may continue to represent a threat to US interests and those of our allies, including Kuwait,” she said.
“While our conversations have addressed in general terms the legal hurdles and difficulties for civil society in dealing with non-state terrorist actors, at no time has anyone seriously recommended that we allow the GTMO detainees to die,” Jones said.
Islamist MP Mohammad Hayef said he would submit written questions to the interior minister about the leaked documents.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, in Kuwait to attend a donors conference for east Sudan, cited the Kuwaiti ruler as saying the WikiLeaks documents will not affect bilateral relations.
“His highness said the documents have been leaked for the purpose of creating conflicts, but it will not affect bilateral ties,” Mottaki told a news conference.