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White House denies imminent Guantanamo closure

[JURIST] The White House Friday denied a Thursday AP report [JURIST report] that officials are nearing a decision to close the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison, saying that, although there is a general desire to eventually close the facility, "nothing is imminent" [press briefing]. White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said that although President Bush indicated his desire to see the facility close as soon as possible, and that "the United States should not be the world's jailers," he has not established a deadline for when such an action would take place. Perino also denied that the cancellation of a Friday meeting about Guantanamo [NBC report] was a reaction to the release of the AP story. She told reporters that such meetings occur routinely, and it was decided that the planned Friday meeting "wasn't needed."

Also discussed at the press briefing was a US plan to transfer numerous Afghans currently held at Guantanamo Bay back to Afghanistan. The US has been working to renovate part of Afghanistan's Pol-e-Charki prison [Financial Times report] so that the prisoners can be held securely. The US has also been training Afghan guards to assure that prisoners receive humane treatment. Perino had no comment about where prisoners not repatriated to their home countries would be relocated to in the event of Guantanamo Bay's closing. AP has more.

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