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Portugal offers to take Guantanamo detainees
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — European Union countries should offer to take in any detainees released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo, Portugal's foreign minister said in a letter published Thursday.
Portugal is willing to grant asylum to Guantanamo detainees who cannot return to their home countries, Foreign Minister Luis Amado said in the letter sent to his EU counterparts.
President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to close the detention center, currently holding some 250 men, at the U.S. Naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.
EU nations agree the prison should be closed. But human rights campaigners have said many inmates would face persecution if sent back to their home countries.
Amado said the EU "should send a clear signal of our willingness to help the U.S. government resolve this problem, namely by taking in the detainees," according to the letter.
He said the EU has made progress on the legal considerations attaching to such an offer, but he did not elaborate.
The letter was posted Thursday on the Portuguese government's Web site. It was sent to the EU foreign ministers Wednesday to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The U.N.'s torture investigator Manfred Nowak had recommended last month that European countries take in Guantanamo inmates who cannot be sent home.