EU says it’s ready to help US with Guantanamo closure

January 26th, 2009 - 6:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaBrussels, Jan 26 (DPA) The European Union (EU) is ready to help the US close the infamous Guantanamo detention centre by taking in some of its inmates, but it is up to individual member states to decide how many they welcome, EU foreign ministers said Monday.”I think we need to look at this from a humanitarian perspective, a human rights perspective. If there are people who are not tried, are let free but they can’t go back to their own countries, I think we in Europe should take our responsibility,” Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said in a meeting with EU counterparts.

The EU has long called for the closure of the detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and welcomed the decision by new US President Barack Obama to prepare the jail’s closure on his first day in office.

Officials Monday said that the 27-member grouping could be willing to offer a home to released detainees who might face abuse if sent back to their country of origin, but that this would depend on both the will of the Obama administration to ask for such a step and the will of individual EU member states to offer it.

“We have not received any demand from our American friends. This is an American problem that they have to solve, but we will be ready to help if necessary,” the EU’s top foreign policy official, Javier Solana, said.

So far, Portugal is the only EU member state which has said clearly that it will take in former detainees, while Britain, which has already taken in 12, has said that it will not accept more.

Britain “feels it has already made a significant contribution but that we are keen to offer our experience on the repatriation of these people to other European countries who are ready to play their part,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

But political pressure is growing for the EU to make a strong offer as a way of strengthening ties with the new US government.

“We need to shake hands with the US: it’s a new, fresh start,” Stubb said.

The ministers are also expected to strengthen sanctions aimed at the regime of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and to take Iranian group the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) off the EU’s list of terrorist organisations in line with a European Court ruling.

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