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2004-04-02 16:50:23

US Gets Set To Cut Off Bahamas Over '90's Case

Former Ambassador Richard Blankenship has flown to Washington DC, for urgent talks with top-level oficials over the Samuel 'Ninety' Knowles extradition case.

Blankenship told The Punch in an exclusive phone interview from his home in Jacksonville, Florida, that he was flying to Washington to meet on Wednesday for the emergency meeting on the Knowles' affair.

Blankenship explained that his resignation as US Ambassador to the Bahamas had not yet been accepted by President Bush.

So, Washington still regards him as the non-resident Ambassador of the Bahamas says Blankenship. He said that US Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega, the White House chief in charge of western hemisphere affairs, has handed drug lord Knowles' extradition matter over to the US Justice Department. And he warned that Justice Department officials are getting ready to issue the following ultimatum to PM Perry Christie.

"Comply with the extradition treaty and send Knowles to Miami or the Bahamas will be decertified for failing to co-operate fully in the war on drugs and violating the treaty. And the US customs pre-clearance facility will also be removed from all ports."

Blankenship said the US would probably give Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell one week to sign the extradition order on Knowles before imposing decertification.

That will mean a crippling US trade ban on the Bahamas with no US planes and cruise ships allowed to visit the Bahamas islands.

Blankenship added, "We had hoped Fred Mitchell would have learned that it is vital for a country to honour its treaty obligations. He is endangering his country's future and it's relationship with the US. We had hoped the new PLP would not commit the same errors the old PLP did by failing to crack down on drug lords and smuggling."

Source: The PUNCH
Thursday, April 1st, 2004

ADDENDUM:

US Embassy Alleged Remarks From Blankenship Were Not Accurate

The US Embassy moved to assure the Bahamas public on Thursday that remarks allegedly made by former US Ambassador Richard Blankenship and carried in a tabloid newspaper were not accurate.

A press release issued from the American Embassy on Thursday said that Mr. Blankenship is not the "non-resident" ambassador to the Bahamas as the article claimed.

"Mr. Blankenship is a private citizen," said the Embassy.

It also pointed out that the US Embassy has no knowledge of, or responsibility for, the alleged comments or assertions made in the article and that they do not represent official United States Government policy.

The Tribune
Friday, April 2nd, 2004 

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