Melbourne, Jan 10 (ANI): The Australian Government has rejected claims that its decision not to resettle Guantanamo Bay inmates in the country was due to pressure from China.
The Kevin Rudd Government denied a request from the Bush Administration to resettle 17 Chinese locked up in Guantanamo Bay military prison after a number of warnings from Beijing not to take the former terror suspects.
Beijing heavily lobbied with the Australian Government against resettling the group of Muslims from northwestern China, known as Uyghurs, whom the US has cleared but refuses to send home for fear of their torture and possible execution.
The Canberra meeting described as a mid-level diplomatic approach took place about three weeks ago, The Australian reports.
It came as the Foreign Ministry in Beijing stressed publicly its opposition to any resettlement of the Uyghurs.
"We have said on many occasions that the 17 terrorist suspects detained at the US military base of Guantanamo are members of the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement, which is listed as a terrorist group by the UN Security Council," a spokesman said.
"The Chinese Government requires these terrorist suspects be repatriated to China. We firmly oppose any countries receiving these people," the spokesman added.
The Rudd Government told the Bush administration last week it would not agree to a second formal request made by the US in December to resettle the group in Australia, saying they did not meet Australia's stringent national security and immigration criteria, the paper said. (ANI)