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Obama asks Australia to take Guantanamo detainees
May 30, 2009 / 1:45 AM / in 8 years

Obama asks Australia to take Guantanamo detainees

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The United States has made a new request for Australia to accept a group of detainees from Guantanamo Bay for resettlement, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday.

<p>In this photo, reviewed by the U.S. Military, an American flag flies at Camp Justice, the location of the U.S. Military Commissions court for war crimes, at the U.S. Naval Base, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 19, 2009. REUTERS/Brennan Linsley/Pool</p>

The request is the first by President Barack Obama’s administration, which plans to close down the detention camp in Cuba within the next year.

Media reports have said the request involves a group of Uighurs from China’s largely Muslim western province of Xinjiang. Beijing has reportedly been pressing Washington to return them to China, but U.S. officials have expressed concerns about their likely treatment there.

Earlier requests for resettlement in Australia late last year by former president George W. Bush’s administration were turned down by Canberra in January on “national security and immigration” grounds.

A spokeswoman for Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith confirmed the new request had been received.

“The Australian government will consider this request on a case by case basis and in accordance with the government’s strict immigration and national security requirements,” the spokeswoman said.

Those in the group in question have been cleared by U.S. authorities of involvement in terrorism, she said.

Editing by Jerry Norton

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