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1 June 2006
BRUSSELS — The EU has called on Washington to close the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.
The Austrian Presidency said the prison was an "anomaly" which should be stopped "as soon as possible".
The statement was made by Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik to the European Parliament on Wednesday. The Parliament will vote on Thursday whether to accept the statement.
Plassnik was speaking on behalf of all EU member states, following several attempts by EU ministers in recent months to agree on such a declaration.
The statement was welcomed by most political groups in the parliament as MEPs suggested Washington should either release prisoners if there is no evidence against them or try them under international law.
Around 500 prisoners are currently kept at the Guantanamo prison, four years after the first al-Qaeda or Taleban suspects were brought in.
EU Foreign Policy Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner also said the issue was discussed last weekend by EU foreign ministers and that all of them were in favor of its closure.
On 19 May, a UN forum urged the US to close Guantanamo and though the advice was not legally binding, the highest legal adviser to the US State Department, John Bellinger, said the request irritated the Americans.
Bellinger said the UN panel had breached its mandate, stressing that it did not have the right to urge the US to close the prison.
Meanwhile, Austrian Foreign Minister Plassnik said the difficult issue of Guantanamo will be discussed at the annual EU-US summit on 21 June in Vienna.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news
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