USA asks the Netherlands to accept Guantanamo prisoners
During the meeting at the White House, Obama reportedly asked the king if the Netherlands is willing to take some of the prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, which is being closed down. Foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders replied on the king’s behalf that the Netherlands is considering the idea, the NRC reports.
There is, however, a clear majority in parliament against accepting Guantanamo, even if they are guilty of no crime. According to the NRC, MPs feel that Guantanamo prisoners are America’s problem and are also concerned that the Netherlands would be opening its doors to a potential terrorist problem.
During the short visit to the White House, Obama said he and the king discussed the ‘400 years of history between our two countries’. ‘In Europe that does not mean a lot,’ the president said, ‘But in the United States that is as old as it gets’.
He went on to describe the Dutch as some of the US’s ‘oldest and most precious allies’. Obama also singled out queen Maxima for praise for the ‘outstanding work’ she is doing with the United Nations on inclusive financing.
King Willem-Alexander in turn offered his sympathy to the people of Texas and Oklahoma for the recent flooding and offered the help of the Netherlands. The main reason for the couple’s visit – the first since Willem-Alexander became king – is “obviously to thank the United States for what you did for our country 70 years ago”, -Willem-Alexander said. “We now stand shoulder to shoulder fighting ISIL – shoulder by shoulder meaning a small shoulder and a big shoulder”, he said. “But still, we want to stand next to each other and we have the same values we want to defend in fighting ISIL”.
Earlier in the day, the Dutch couple laid a wreath at the Arlington ceremony and met veterans. Their tour also takes them to Holland in Michigan, Grand Rapids and Chicago. A visit to a baseball match scheduled for later on Monday was cancelled because of bad weather.