David Miliband calls Hillary Clinton to voice anger over Guantánamo inmates' transfer to Bermuda
By Toby Harnden in Washington
Published: 6:34PM BST 12 Jun 2009
David Miliband has telephoned Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, to express the government's disappointment at the deal.
British officials were informed the four Chinese Uighurs were heading to the United Kingdom's oldest dependency only as they boarded their plane for Bermuda on Wednesday night.
A British diplomat said: "The Foreign Secretary registered his surprise. It was a regrettable mistake. Bermuda, the UK and the US now need to work together to fix it and make sure it doesn't happen again."
A senior State Department official said this diplomatic understatement masked a real anger over the Obama administration's oversight among British officials, telling ABC News: "They're pissed".
The State Department denied it had bypassed Britain but admitted that it dealt directly with Bermuda, a territory under the sovereignty of the UK, which is responsible for foreign policy and security.
Ian Kelly, State Department spokesman, said: "We understand that there are some concerns about some of the details of the resettlement, and we're confident that we can work these things through with the government of the UK."
Britain's anger is directed principally at Ewart Brown, the Bermudan premier. But the UK's responsibility for the security of Bermuda is well known to US diplomats and the decision to ignore this could be a sign of diminished British clout in Washington.
Mr Brown said that the Uighurs, a Muslim minority from China's Xinjiang province would be "provided with the opportunity to become naturalised citizens and thereafter afforded the right to travel and leave Bermuda, potentially settling elsewhere".
Adbul Nasser, one of the four freed Uighurs, hailed Bermuda's decision.
"Today you have let freedom ring," he said in a statement. David Miliband calls Hillary Clinton to voice anger over Guant