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Uruguay offers to take Guantanamo prisoners

The US has resettled 43 prisoners in 17 countries since Obama took office and has released 38 others to their homelands.

Last updated: 21 Mar 2014 02:39
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154 prisoners remain in the Guantanamo Bay prison [AP]

Uruguay's president has said he is open to taking a number men being held at the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

Jose Mujica said on Thursday that his country had agreed to receive the prisoners and called the decision a matter of human rights. However, a US official said no agreement had been reached.

"If the inmates of Guantanamo want to make their nests in Uruguay, they can do it," Mujica told Channel 10's Subrayado programme.

"That's not correct," she said. "We're consulting and in conversation, but there is no deal to make a process like this in Uruguay," Rynoso told Montevideo's El Espectador radio show.

Jose Mujica offers home to Guantanamo prisoners

The prisoners "haven't seen a judge, haven't seen a prosecutor, and the president of the United States wants to resolve this problem as well," Mujica added.

He said the prisoners would be granted refugee status in Uruguay.

When asked if he had demanded something in return from Washington, Mujica replied: "I don't do favours for free."

Julissa Reynoso, the US ambassador in the country, stressed that no agreement had yet been reached "We're still talking," Reynoso said, denying that the governments had agreed that five prisoners would go to Uruguay.

The country's weekly Busqueda magazine reported earlier in the day that Mujica had agreed to accept five Guantanamo prisoners at the request of the US president, Barack Obama, and that his secretary of state, John Kerry, personally called Uruguay's president to thank him on Monday.

The magazine also said the deal includes a requirement that the former prisoners remain inside Uruguay's borders for at least two years.

Obama has struggled to fulfill his five-year-old promise to close the prison, and countries have been slow to come forward and agree to accept transferred prisoners.

The US has resettled 43 Guantanamo prisoners in 17 countries since Obama took office, and has released 38 others to their homelands.

There are 154 prisoners still being held at the prison, many of whom have been held for years without charge.

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