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Red Cross Denies Accusations of Bias Against US


The president of the International Committee of the Red Cross is dismissing allegations contained in a policy paper for U.S. Republican senators, that it has lost its impartiality.

A report by the Republican Policy Committee in the U.S. Senate, issued earlier this week, said the ICRC was "deviating from its core principles," and appeared to violate its doctrine of impartiality.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger dismissed those allegations.

"The paper's purpose appears to be to discredit the ICRC by putting forward false allegations and unsubstantiated accusations," he said.

Mr. Kellenberger denied allegations in the report that the organization had leaked confidential reports submitted to U.S. authorities about prison conditions. The ICRC regularly visits prisoners at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in prisons in Iraq as part of its regular operations. Late last year, excerpts from a confidential report on the treatment of prisoners appeared in the press.

Mr. Kellenberger also denied allegations in the report, which cited an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, that an ICRC staff member compared U.S. soldiers to Nazis.

"Contrary to what is stated in the paper, ICRC staff has never compared US soldiers to the Nazis," he added.

The committee, which advises the U.S. Senate Republican majority, also claimed the ICRC reinterpreted international law to give "terrorists and insurgents the same rights and privileges as military personnel" of countries such as the United States. The report said the ICRC "has adopted an approach toward the United States that ... is in direct opposition to the advancement of U.S. interests."

ICRC President Kellenberger said the Red Cross is committed to the principles of independence, neutrality, impartiality and confidentiality. He said the U.S. government and the ICRC have good and trustful relations.

"The quality of the dialogue, up to the highest level, enables both sides to discuss openly all issues, including those where there are differences of view. And, there are," he noted.

Mr. Kellenberger said the organization is not above criticism.

"And the ICRC is open to constructive dialogue with those who have different opinions. However, dialogue does not appear to be the primary objective of the authors of the paper," he said.

The United States is the single largest donor to the ICRC. Last year, it contributed $130 million to the ICRC budget. The Republican Policy Committee report suggests that Washington examine whether its contribution to the ICRC "is advancing American interests."

Mr. Kellenberger says he is sure the United States will remain a major donor.

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