March 11, 2009 / 4:20 PM / 9 years ago

U.S. diplomat may get key role in closing Guantanamo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is expected to give the top U.S. diplomat for Europe the task of convincing other nations to accept some detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison for terrorism suspects, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

<p>In this photo, reviewed by the U.S. Military, leg shackles are seen on the floor at Camp 6 detention center, at the U.S. Naval Base, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, January 21, 2009. REUTERS/Brennan Linsley/Pool</p>

The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said Dan Fried, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, was expected to be assigned the task.

President Barack Obama in January ordered the closure of the detention complex within a year. It houses about 250 terrorism suspects and others in a camp and maximum-security facilities at the Guantanamo U.S. naval base on Cuba.

Inmates have been held as long as seven years without charges. Accusations that prisoners were abused to the point of torture have spurred wide condemnation of the United States.

One of the key difficulties to closing the prison is where to send the inmates, some of whom may face persecution in their home countries. The U.S. government has pressed European nations to take some of them.

Fried has spent much of his career working on European issues. Before former President George W. Bush named him as assistant secretary of state, he was senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council.

Editing by David Storey

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