ATHENS, GA. — Five former U.S. secretaries of State on Thursday urged the next presidential administration to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and open a dialogue with Iran.
The former chiefs of American diplomacy, who served in Democratic and Republican administrations, reached a consensus on the two issues at a conference in Athens aimed at giving the next president some bipartisan foreign policy advice.
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Each of them said closing the prison in Cuba would bolster America’s image abroad.
“It says to the world: ‘We are now going back to our traditional respective forms of dealing with people who potentially committed crimes,’ ” said Colin L. Powell, who served as President Bush’s first secretary of State.
Powell was joined by Henry A. Kissinger, James A. Baker III, Warren Christopher and Madeleine K. Albright, who sat in a round-table discussion sponsored by the University of Georgia at a sold-out conference center in downtown Athens.
Kissinger called Guantanamo a “blot on us” and agreed it should be closed, but wondered aloud about the consequences of a closure.
Baker, a lawyer who served in President George H.W. Bush’s Cabinet, said he had struggled with its legal implications.