Uruguay agrees to receive five Guantanamo detainees


A group of detainees kneels during early morning prayer in the camp at the US military prison for "enemy combatants" on Oct. 28, 2009 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


John Moore

Uruguay said Thursday it had agreed to receive five prisoners of as yet undisclosed nationalities from the US war on terror prison camp in Guantanamo Bay.

US President Barack Obama is struggling to fulfill his five-year-old promise to close the controversial jail, and countries have been slow to come forward and agree to accept transferred inmates.

Confirming a report first published in the weekly Busqueda newspaper, a high-level government source told AFP that Uruguay will host the former inmates for at least two years.

"Obama raised the issue in recent weeks with his Uruguayan counterpart, Jose Mujica, through emissaries," the paper reported.

Mujica had discussed the issue with Cuban President Raul Castro, who supported the idea, during a visit in January, the paper added.

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It said US Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Mujica on Monday and confirmed Obama would receive him in the White House before the end of June.

Mujica's official visit to the United States had been planned for last year, but was postponed due to scheduling issues for the two leaders.

Transfers out of Guantanamo have increased recently, the latest taking place this month when an Algerian was sent to his home country against his will because he feared abuse there.

Some 154 inmates remain at the prison, erected at a US naval base in Cuba by former president George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Most have never been charged or tried.

Obama has said the prison has damaged America's standing in the world, but his plan to shutter the facility has been thwarted in part by Congress, which has banned transferring inmates to US soil.

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