Sun, Nov 20, 2005 - Page 7 News List

US: Washington, Beijing human rights issues differ

AP , BEIJING

The US attorney general said yesterday that President George W. Bush's effort to press Beijing on human rights during a visit this weekend shouldn't be hampered by accusations that Washington condoned the torture of detainees in Iraq.

"I don't think it does dilute the US message,'' Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said at a news conference following talks this week with Chinese justice officials.

"Our commitment to basic human rights remains as strong as ever. The president of the United States is going to deliver that message,'' he said.

Bush has made human rights a theme of his visit to Beijing, calling in a speech this week for communist leaders to give China's public greater religious and other liberties.

Bush is to meet today with President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and other Chinese leaders.

The visit comes amid controversy in Washington over claims of torture at US detention facilities in Iraq. Gonzales wrote a 2002 memo saying Bush had the right to waive anti-torture laws and treaties that protect prisoners of war. Critics say that helped lead to abuses in Iraq, an allegation he has denied.

"The president has made it clear that the United States of America does not condone torture,'' Gonzales said.

The attorney general met on Friday with Luo Gan (羅幹), the member of the Chinese Communist Party's ruling nine-member Standing Committee who is in charge of law and order, and other justice officials.

Gonzales, the top US law enforcement official, said he promised closer anti-terrorism cooperation and called on Beijing to fight product piracy.

"We [are] simply committed to try to be as helpful as we can and as cooperative as we can with the Chinese government," he said.

On terrorism, Gonzales said Chinese officials "asked for help in a wide variety of areas."

He said they raised the question of Chinese Muslims who were detained in Afghanistan and are being held at the US base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but he wouldn't give any details.

Beijing is pressing for the return of the Muslims, members of its Uighur minority, to face possible terrorism charges.

Beijing says it is fighting violent separatists in its Muslim northwest with links to the al-Qaeda terror network. But the government has offered little evidence to support its claims, and foreign experts and diplomats are skeptical.

Gonzales said he and Chinese officials agreed to review the work of joint groups set up to oversee anti-terrorism cooperation and to "look to see whether other groups would be necessary."

Gonzales said he also pressed Chinese officials to stop rampant illegal copying of movies, music and other intellectual property.

"The level of cooperation is good. We need it to be better," he said.

Gonzales said they also discussed China's efforts to track down corrupt officials who have fled abroad.

"The message that I delivered is that we all have an interest in government that people who engage in crime are brought to justice, and I would I would be happy to look at specific cases to see what, if anything, the United States could do,'' he said.

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