June 16, 2009 in Nation/World

Pact OK’d on Guantanamo inmates

Accord puts EU nations closer to taking prisoners
Sebastian Rotella Los Angeles Times

MADRID, Spain – European Union and U.S. representatives reached an agreement Monday in which individual European nations can receive inmates cleared for release from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Separately, President Barack Obama said in Washington, D.C., that Italy would accept three detainees. He made the announcement after meeting with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi in the Oval Office.

The EU agreement, announced after a meeting of the 27 European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, Belgium, repeats previous statements about how Europe and the United States will work together to close Guantanamo.

The announcement did not specify which nations would take former inmates or how many.

It left the decision up to each nation, many of which oppose taking former prisoners – especially because of U.S. reluctance to do the same.

But European officials said Monday’s move is positive because of a U.S. pledge to share all intelligence, including confidential information, on each potential transfer.

The United States also has agreed to consider compensating governments for the expense incurred in housing and monitoring former inmates.

Intensified talks are expected as U.S. diplomats visit nations that are open to helping resettle about 60 inmates who are cleared for release but cannot return to their homelands because of human-rights issues.

Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos of Spain said he looked forward to working “in a positive sense” with the U.S. to craft a plan specifying how many inmates Spain would be asked to take, according to Spanish news reports.

Other governments were more reserved. The British government, which has accepted 14 returnees, repeated its stance that it will not take more.

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