SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria should accept one detainee from the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba after a request from Washington to house prisoners, Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said on Saturday.
His deputy Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who is also interior minister, said earlier on Saturday that the United States and NATO member Bulgaria were in talks about a possible transfer.
The transfer of prisoners is part of a drive by U.S. President Barack Obama to close the widely criticized jail set up by his predecessor, George W. Bush, to house suspected militants captured abroad.
“There is European and NATO solidarity. Just like we seek support for everything from our Euro-Atlantic partners, President Obama is now seeking this from all of us,” Borisov told reporters.
“My personal opinion is that we should accept one person.”
His center-right government, elected in July, is eager to prove its loyalty to its Western partners and clear the Balkan country’s image marred by the previous administration’s failure to tame rampant corruption and crime.
Washington’s request will be discussed by all political parties in parliament and the chamber, dominated by Borisov’s GERB party, will take the final decision.
Online news provider Mediapool.bg quoted unnamed sources as saying that a similar U.S. request was rejected by Bulgaria’s previous Socialist-led government.
Earlier this month, the French Foreign Ministry said two detainees at Guantanamo were sent to France and to Hungary.
Obama pledged to close Guantanamo within a year of taking office but he has acknowledged that the January 22 deadline would likely be missed because of political and diplomatic obstacles.
More than 200 detainees remain in the prison. About 90 have been cleared to be transferred but the Obama administration, limited by Congress from bringing them into the United States, has struggled to convince other countries to take them in.
Reporting by Anna Mudeva; Editing by Janet Lawrence