Netherlands may take Guantánamo detainees

15th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Dutch will consider accepting prisoners from Guantánamo Bay if it allows for the timely closure of the detention centre.

The Hague – The Netherlands may accept Guantánamo Bay detainees if the proposed 2010 closure of the detention centre is at risk.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende made the announcement Tuesday during talks with US President Barack Obama at the White House.

The Dutch leader had implied earlier that he was no longer categorically opposed to accepting prisoners from the detention facility in an exclusive interview with Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

During the hour-long meeting at the White House, the US president expressed his appreciation for Balkenende's military support in Afghanistan.

Obama also thanked the Dutch people for their effort.

The Netherlands has nearly 2,000 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Nineteen Dutch soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since 2006.

During the question and answer session, Prime Minister Balkenende stressed the Dutch contingency in Uruzgan will be withdrawn in 2010 as scheduled, but will not abandon the Afghan people.

"We feel also responsibility. We will go on with ... cooperation, if there are requests we will consider them seriously,” Balkenende told the AFP news agency.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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