US asks Spain to take Guantanamo detainees

25th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has asked Spain to take in former prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, says Spanish Foreign Minister.

WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Spain Tuesday to take in prisoners from the US "war on terror" detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said.

After years of chilly relations, Moratinos' first meeting with Clinton opened the way for a new phase in Spain's diplomatic relations with President Barack Obama, he told reporters.

During their 20-minute meeting at the State Department, Clinton asked for "help in solving this drama, this unacceptable tragedy of the prisoners at Guantanamo," Moratinos said.

"I responded that Spain is ready, in principle, to cooperate by taking in some prisoners as long as the legal conditions are acceptable," he said, adding that Madrid would do so on a "case-by-case."

Obama signed a decree 22 January ordering the closure of the Guantanamo prison within a year. There are some 245 prisoners at the facility, which is on a remote US naval base on the southeastern tip of Cuba.

Moratinos said that in any event "a new stage in relations between the United States and Spain is opening that is more intense, more productive."

The Obama administration made its first top level contact with Spain on Friday, when King Juan Carlos I and Moratinos met with retired general James Jones, the national security adviser in Miami.

Obama "wants to make Spain an active partner in all the US administration's commitments and actions on the international stage," Moratinos said.

Clinton and Moratinos discussed the situation in the Middle East, in particular the international donors meeting for the Palestinian Authority; Afghanistan; energy issues; and Latin America, the Spanish minister said.

He said Latin America faces challenges and issues that "require the work not only of Spain and the European Union but also of a (US) administration more interested in Latin America, and not just Cuba."

AFP / Expatica

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