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June 20, 09

NEWS / U.S. and Europeans Agree on Resettling Guantánamo Detainees

By Stephen Kaufman
Staff Writer
Source: http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2009/June/20090616140405esnamfuak0.4731104.html?CP.rss=true
Washington — Members of the European Union (EU) have agreed to help the United States in its effort to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, by accepting some detainees and sharing information on the former detainees once they have arrived in an EU country.

The EU and the United States released a joint statement June 15 that outlines a framework for the 27 individual European Union states to accept detainees, as well as other cooperation on counterterrorism.

In his June 15 meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the White House, President Obama thanked Berlusconi for Italy’s agreement to accept three Guantánamo detainees. He also said he was very appreciative of the joint statement.

“It will give us an opportunity to create a lasting and durable international legal framework for dealing with terrorism that I think is very important on both sides of the Atlantic,” the president said.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly also welcomed the adoption of the statement by the EU’s Council of Ministers.

“We thank our European colleagues, particularly the Czech presidency, the EU counterterrorism coordinator and the [EU] Commission, for their help and willingness to join with us in closing the Guantánamo facility and deepening trans-Atlantic cooperation in counterterrorism. We look forward to the EU’s continuing partnership on this challenging issue,” Kelly said in a June 15 statement.

The U.S.-EU joint statement noted President Obama’s order to close Guantánamo by January 22, 2010, and said the EU and its member states “wish to help the U.S. turn the page” as it develops a new security approach and conducts a review of its security policies, including those on the detention, transfer, trial and interrogation of detainees, transparency about past detainee practices and the elimination of secret detention facilities.

“In this context, certain Member States of the European Union have expressed their readiness to assist with the reception of certain former Guantánamo detainees, on a case-by-case basis,” the joint statement said.

Drawing on shared U.S. and EU values of “freedom, democracy, and respect for international law, the rule of law and human rights,” the statement said joint efforts against terrorism should also reflect those values. “We consider that efforts to combat terrorism conducted in this manner make us stronger and more secure.”

Both the EU and United States agree that the United States has the “primary responsibility” for closing the Guantánamo facility and finding new residences for the detainees. The Obama administration has asked the Europeans for assistance in resettling detainees who have been cleared for release but “for compelling reasons cannot return to their countries of origin” and have expressed a desire to live in an EU state.

The joint statement also notes that the United States will share all available intelligence and information with the EU member state on the detainee that is being considered for resettlement, and both parties will keep each other informed of any relevant information that emerges later. The United States will also consider contributing to costs that EU states incur related to receiving individual ex-detainees.

The full text of the joint statement is available on America.gov.



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