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New America Foundation Delegation Meets Saudi Human Rights Group | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- A New America Foundation delegation which is visiting Saudi Arabia at present does not expect the incumbent US administration to close the Guantanamo detention camp before the end of this year, when President George Bush’s term in office ends. It said the issue of the closure of the infamous camp is left to the next administration which Republican Senator John McCain and Democrats Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are competing to lead.

The expectations of the foundation were made at its delegation’s meeting with officials from Saudi Arabia’s National Human Rights Society during the high-level delegation’s visit to Riyadh. It stressed that Guantanamo’s closure “requires new laws for solving this issue” and pointed out that there are no imminent solutions for closing it.

The neoconservative in the incumbent US administration want to keep the detention camp while the Democratic Party opposes it and believes the camp unsettled Washington’s relations with several Arab and Muslim countries whose citizens are being detained in Guantanamo.

The New America Foundation delegation is led during its current visit to the kingdom by Steven Clemons, director of the foundation’s strategic programs, and six of its senior researchers led by Flint Leverot. The aim of the delegation’s visit is to learn about the situation at close hand and get a better understanding of the efforts being made in the security and antiterrorism spheres and the political, economic, and social reforms so as to enable them to deal with such issues in future in a more realistic and objective way.

The discussions between the New America Foundation officials and their counterparts in the Saudi society opened the way for the idea from Dr. Muflih al-Qahtani, the society’s vice chairman, about the possibility of concluding an agreement between the Riyadh and Washington governments to exchange prisoners. The US foundation said it would be impossible for Washington to sign a memorandum on exchanging prisoners with any country because “American law requires law breakers to serve their sentences in American territories.”

The new America Foundation is the second one to visit Saudi Arabia in one month and follows the short visit by a Human Rights Watch organization’s delegation last month. The Saudi Government demonstrated a clear openness toward international human rights societies and organizations which wished to visit during the past two years while Amnesty International is expected to make a visit to Riyadh in the next few months.

The National Human Rights Society complained during yesterday’s meeting of the “harsh” reports written by human rights organizations that are allowed to visit the country and said these reports focus on the negative aspects inside jails without mentioning the positive ones. It asserted to the American foundation’s delegation, which also met yesterday with the government’s Human Rights Association, Saudi Arabia’ openness to any visits by international organization while underlining the need for the reports written about human rights in Saudi Arabia to avoid the “politicization” and to be “objective.”