8 December 2005
BRUSSELS — US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assuaged NATO and EU concerns on Wednesday night in response to recent reports of secret CIA flights in European airspace.
Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said Rice clarified certain issues and that both NATO and EU ministers appeared satisfied with her explanations.
Rice met her 31 EU and NATO colleagues during an informal dinner at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported.
She did not go into specific details about secret CIA activities abroad, but De Gucht said that could not have been expected of her and other countries would not have entered into details.
The Liberal VLD minister said he did not hear a lot of new information, but stressed that Rice outlined a coherent explanation of the principles the US applies to its anti-terror activities.
The US Secretary of State assured her colleagues that Washington respects international law and never sanctions torture. Rice also said the sovereignty of other countries is always honored.
Additionally, Rice said the US abides by the rules of the Geneva Convention protecting prisoners of war when dealing with arrested al-Qaeda terror suspects.
She said this was despite the general consensus that terrorist organisations without any link to a national state structure do not represent a justiciable object under the convention.
De Gucht asked Rice whether the US has the intention to bring arrested terror suspects before a court of law. Rice answered yes, but also said it was neither a simple nor a speedy process.
International media has been dominated in recent weeks about the CIA use of European airspace and European airports to bring terror suspects to countries where torture is possible.
Some newspapers have even reported about the alleged existence of secret CIA prison camps in Central and Eastern Europe.
The issue has sparked heated debate within Europe and De Gucht refused to call the matter ‘case closed’ after Wednesday night’s talks. However, he did indicate that Rice’s explanations satisfied NATO and EU ministers.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news