LISBON, Portugal – Portugal will take in two or three Guantanamo detainees once they are released by the U.S. detention center, the foreign minister said.
President Barack Obama has pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center by early next year, and has asked European nations to accept some of the camp's 229 detainees.
The EU, which long argued for the prison's closure, agreed last week to "turn the page" on Guantanamo, but said it was up to individual EU members to decide whether to take in detainees from the camp. Few have agreed.
The Portuguese government is now working out the legal issues involved in bringing two or three former prisoners to Portugal, Foreign Minister Luis Amado was quoted Sunday as saying by state broadcaster RTP's Web site.
"We now have to set in motion the internal procedures necessary to proceed with their reception," Amado said Saturday on RTP's news program "Antena 1."
Amado met Friday with Daniel Fried, the U.S. administration's special envoy tasked with closing the American prison camp situated on the southeastern tip of Cuba.
Amado said the government next week would announce details of the planned transfer of detainees. He did not say which countries they might be from or whether they would be treated as prisoners in Portugal as well.
In December, Amado urged other EU states to take in Guantanamo detainees who could not return to their home countries.
Italy last week said it was ready to take in at least three, according to an aide to Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. The U.S. has asked Spain to accept four prisoners.
On June 11, the U.S. sent four Chinese Uighurs once held at Guantanamo to the British Atlantic island of Bermuda.
The Pacific island nation of Palau has agreed to take in 13 other Uighurs — members of a Muslim minority in China. The Uighurs had all been cleared by U.S. officials, but were not returned to China for fear they might be persecuted there.