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Europe asked to take detainees

Dec. 13, 2008 at 11:46 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Many European countries have refused a U.S. request to take detainees from the detention camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, a U.S. State Department official says.

The United States wants Europe's help in resettling dozens of detainees who pose no threat to the West but cannot return to their own countries for fear of persecution or death, said John Bellinger, chief legal adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It is not helpful for countries to keep calling for the closure of Guantanamo while doing nothing to enable us to do it," Bellinger said, noting Britain and most members of the European Union have declined to take detainees.

That may change, however, when U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes office, The Times of London reported Saturday, noting the closing of Guantanamo, which contains an estimated 250 detainees, is to be one of his administration's top priorities.

The level of public hostility in Europe toward the United States may lessen once President George Bush leaves and Obama assumes the presidency, which would mean greater cooperation, the Times said.

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