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EU presses for Guantanamo closure

brussels bureau

EU presses for Guantanamo closure


Washington is set to come under renewed pressure from Europe at next week’s EU-U.S. summit to close the prison in Guantanamo Bay. The deaths of three prisoners on Saturday – said to have been suicides – has intensified criticism of the White House’s war on terrorism.

The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling on the European Union member states to take a common approach at the summit. The American naval base in Cuba has been a lightning rod for criticism since it began holding suspected al Qaeda and Taliban members in 2002. The euro-deputies reaffirmed the prisoners there must be treated according to international law.

On Monday, at a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Luxembourg, the EU’s current president Austria confirmed the EU would ask U.S. President George W. Bush to close Guantanamo. Many human rights groups also demand that the prison be closed. Amnesty International’s latest protest has been in Vienna, currently holding the EU’s rotating presidency.

Nearly all the camp’s detainees are being held without charge, and some of the 460 foreigners have been locked up for more than four years. Saturday’s deaths, of two Saudis and one Yemeni, were the first, the U.S. military has reported. It described all three as “dangerous enemy combatants”.

Bush said on Friday he would like to empty Guantanamo and repatriate detainees.

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