June 17, 2009 / 9:07 AM / 11 years ago

Spain could take 5 Guantanamo inmates - El Pais

MADRID, June 17 (Reuters) - Spain is ready to take between three and five inmates from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, newspaper El Pais reported on Wednesday, citing government officials.

Senior U.S. State Department official Daniel Fried was due to meet officials from the Spanish Foreign Ministry in Madrid on Wednesday to discuss possible relocation of detainees from Guantanamo, Spanish and U.S. embassy officials said.

But they could not confirm the El Pais report about how many if any detainees Spain might be prepared to take. "Spain will study the proposal from the U.S. government with interest and will try to help to solve the issue of Guantanamo, international and local law permitting," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

El Pais reported that Spanish authorities want to discuss who would pay for security for any detainees resettled here, who would not necessarily have any prior links to Spain and would probably have freedom of movement within the country.

The men in question would probably be Syrian and Tunisian citizens, the newspaper reported.

The European Union said on Monday that its member states were ready to help resettle detainees freed from the prison at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba. Italy has agreed to accept three of the prisoners.

Soon after taking office on Jan. 20, U.S. President Barack Obama set a one-year deadline for closing the prison, which holds more than 220 inmates and has been strongly criticised by human rights groups.

Obama has insisted some of the inmates will be sent to prisons in the United States, but he faces strong opposition in Congress.

(Reporting by Jason Webb)



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