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United States: ICRC president holds talks with senior officials

20-04-2009 News Release 09/79

Geneva / Washington (ICRC) – The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jakob Kellenberger, has arrived in Washington for talks with senior officials.

During his three-day visit, Mr Kellenberger will be meeting the attorney general, Eric Holder, the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon Panetta, the director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, the national security adviser, General James Jones, and the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Mr Kellenberger will also meet the chairman of the board of governors of the American Red Cross, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter.

The meetings will focus on a wide range of issues, which are expected to include detention-related matters, aspects of international humanitarian law that are of particular relevance in today's conflict environments, and the humanitarian situation in some of the ICRC's main areas of operations, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Somalia and Sudan.

The ICRC president's last visit to Washington took place in January 2008. This will be his first meeting with members of the new administration.

" I am particularly interested in discussing the follow-up to the executive orders of 22 January 2009 concerning the closure of the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay and related US detention and interrogation policies, " said Mr Kellenberger before the visit. " The ICRC welcomes the executive orders as an opportunity for a thorough review of the status of all detainees and of the procedures governing internment. "

The ICRC has been visiting US-held detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, since 2002, and in Iraq since 2003.

For further information, please contact:
  Bernard Barrrett, ICRC Washington, tel: +1 202 587 4604
  Simon Schorno, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 2426 or +41 79 251 9302