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Blinken says Guantanamo prison should close

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on during a meeting with French President at the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 25, 2021. – Blinken is on a week long trip in Europe traveling to Germany, France and Italy. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday renewed pledges to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, while acknowledging it was difficult to predict when it would happen.

Former president Barack Obama, under whom Blinken served in more junior roles, failed in his bid to close the prison at a US military base in Cuba, which became a symbol of excesses in the “war on terror” launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Blinken, on a visit to Paris, noted that only about 40 prisoners were left but said the issue remained “complicated” due to questions on where to send them.

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“This is completely our position and we are working on this,” Blinken said when asked about closing the Guantanamo jail in a forum on the youth-oriented French network Brut.

“It’s the goal but I can’t guarantee the date. It’s simply the goal,” he said in French.

President Joe Biden’s White House in February launched a study into how to close the prison but it has been careful not to overpromise after the failure of Obama’s vow to get rid of it within one year of taking office in 2009.

The rival Republican Party quickly blocked Obama’s plans by restricting the ability of the United States to move prisoners from Guantanamo to the US mainland.

The prison, where inmates have recounted harsh interrogations, was set up under president George W. Bush for suspects captured around the world on the understanding they would not be entitled to the constitutional protections to due process guaranteed on US soil.

Obama’s successor Donald Trump mused about sending more suspects to Guantanamo Bay but in effect kept it in place in the same form.

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