Obama, Spain's Zapatero Discuss Guantanamo Detainee Transfers
By Anne E. Kornblut
With the process of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center running behind schedule, President Obama on Tuesday discussed the effort to transfer prisoners abroad with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
Zapatero, in his first White House visit in many years, said he had spoken to Obama about Spain's offer to take three prisoners. "President Obama welcomed the initiative of Spain," Zapatero said. "We are still assessing the exact numbers."
U.S. officials had hoped Spain would take at least five of the remaining 200 prisoners, part of an ongoing negotiation with numerous foreign countries. Although a steady trickle of detainees have been transferred abroad, the administration is having difficulty placing or deciding whether to prosecute the most difficult cases, one reason the prison is now not expected to close by the January deadline.
Zapatero had been shut out of the Oval Office in the Bush years after withdrawing Spanish troops from Iraq. Now, however, relations between the two countries have warmed, and Spain has sent additional troops to Afghanistan.
Obama, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, said he would make a decision on whether to increase the U. S. troop levels in the "coming weeks."
October 13, 2009; 5:10 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Detainee Update
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