State Department’s Gitmo envoy quits
KABUL (Pajhwok): State Department’s envoy for closure of the Guantánamo Bay jail Cliff Sloan has resigned, dealing a blow to President Obama’s push to shut down the detention facility in Cuba.
Sloan, who took up the post in July 2013, planned returning to his Washington law practice after an 18-month commitment, the State Department said.
Secretary of State John Kerry appreciated Sloan’s contribution, saying he would like to have about a hundred people like the outgoing envoy. He’s the model of someone very successful; who comes to build relationships instead of burning bridges…”
The envoy has resigned at a time when the State Department and the White House have increasingly voiced their frustration with the Defence Department’s slow pace of transferring prisoners from Guantanamo.
But Sloan denied in an interview on Monday he was quitting because he was disappointed by the Pentagon’s dithering. He had always intended to stay a maximum of 18 months, he said, insisting he was right on schedule.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported the White House had not yet decided on a replacement for Sloan. “The Department of State will continue to be responsible for all diplomatic engagement to close the facility,” an official told the newspaper.
On Saturday, the Pentagon announced sending four detainees from Guantánamo to Afghanistan, fulfilling a request from President Ashraf Ghani. Sloan forged the agreements that led to the repatriation of the Afghans last.
Kerry said in a statement Sloan’s skillful negotiating had led to the transfer of 34 detainees and with more on the way. “I’m convinced there’s a finish line in sight now because of the strides we made in 2014 especially, and Cliff’s a big part of that progress.”
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