US thanks Germany for taking 2 Guantanamo detainees

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The United States expressed appreciation Wednesday for Germany's acceptance of two detainees from Guantanamo Bay and said it would help Washington's efforts to close the facility.

"We greatly appreciate Germany's decision to resettle these two detainees," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said after German authorities agreed to take the Palestinian and Syrian detainees.

"This humanitarian gesture is a strong signal of Germany's commitment to assist the United States in closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility."

US authorities cleared the two detainees for release after nearly nine years in detention without charge. Germany said the men posed no threat.

Washington has asked allies to help resettle prisoners who have been cleared of all charges but cannot return home, often over fears they may be tortured. But countries' reluctance has been a key obstacle in closing the site.

According to US government figures from early May, 181 detainees remain there including dozens already cleared for release. Most have been held without charge or trial.

Toner said that the list of countries resettling detainees "continues to grow, and we are encouraged by the assistance of the international community, which continues to support this administration's closure effort."

Berlin in 2006 accepted a Turkish citizen who grew up in Germany back from Guantanamo.

But Germany last year refused a separate request to take in two other ex-detainees, arguing that Washington had failed to provide sufficient background information on them.

It had previously rejected a US call to accept Chinese Uighur detainees.

© 2010 AFP

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