17 Uighurs and $200 Million? Not a Bad Deal

Created: June 10, 2009 10:15 | Last updated: July 31, 2020 00:00

Palau’s decision to accept the 17 Chinese Uighurs held at Guantanamo Bay, whom the United States and numerous other countries refused to take, may have been influenced by a generous foreign aid offer from the United States.

The Associated Press reports that “two U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. was prepared to give Palau up to $200 million in development, budget support and other assistance in return for accepting the Uighurs and as part of a mutual defense and cooperation treaty that is due to be renegotiated this year.”

In an interview with the BBC World Service this morning, Palau President Johnson Toribiong insisted that the only money he’d discussed with the U.S. government was “small support money” to aid in the Uighurs’ resettlement.

For a tiny island of less than 30,000 inhabitants, $200 million would surely be some helpful support. But Toribiong said that was not the motivation: “It’s an act of support for the United States in a request to release these people,” he told the BBC.

In a statement, Toribiong said his tiny country is “honoured and proud” to resettle the detainees, who have been found not to be “enemy combatants.”