Sat, Apr 04, 2009 - Page 7 News List

US dismisses Chavez offer to house Gitmo detainees


Washington expressed no interest on Thursday in an offer by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to take in any of the 240 remaining Guantanamo detainees after they are released from the US military prison.

Chavez said he would have “no problem” accepting any of the remaining detainees in Venezuela. In an interview with Arabic-language Al-Jazeera news network during his trip this week to the Persian Gulf country, Chavez also urged US President Barack Obama to free the remaining detainees and return the surrounding US Navy base to Cuba.

But the US State Department said in a statement that “the United States has not received a formal offer through diplomatic channels to resettle detainees to Venezuela and is not contemplating resettling detainees to Venezuela.”

Chavez has frequently criticized the US military prison, but the socialist leader has also praised Obama’s pledge to close it within a year.

As for the detainees, Chavez said “we would have no problem in receiving a human being.”

Chavez’s remarks to the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera were later released by the Venezuelan Information Ministry.

As part of Obama’s closure order, US officials are deciding which of the remaining detainees should be shipped away to foreign countries and which should be tried, either in civilian US courts or in some other setting.

Prisoners transferred to third countries, mainly in Europe, would be those determined to pose no threat but who cannot be sent back to their homelands because of the risk of persecution.

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