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Biden urges Latin America to take in Guantanamo prisoners

BOGOTÁ, Colombia – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, on a four-country trip across Latin America, said he hoped the region would accept more Guantanamo prisoners to help expedite closing the facility, in an interview published Wednesday by a Colombian newspaper.

“One of the fastest ways to accelerate the closure of Guantanamo is for other countries to agree, in a responsible manner, to receive detainees,” Biden was quoted as saying in the Spanish-language newspaper El Espectador.

The vice president, who is on a regional tour coinciding with the World Cup, said during his stop in Colombia that closure of the prison remained a high priority for the United States.

Uruguay earlier this year agreed to take in five detainees, and the Uruguayan press said that Brazil had also been pressed to do so.

In March, authorities in Bogotá said they would also consider a request to accept prisoners.

Transfer of prisoners out of the jail — which President Barack Obama has repeatedly vowed to close — has been accelerated in recent months.

But 149 detainees still remain in the special prison created under former president George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

U.S. administration officials are actively working to find countries which will take the detainees, as many cannot be sent home because of fears to U.S. security or because they face persecution at home.

Biden is scheduled to meet Wednesday morning with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who was re-elected just days ago in a tight run-off.

The meeting will center on the ongoing peace process that Santos’ government has engaged in with the country’s two leftist guerrilla groups.

Biden, who met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Tuesday, is also scheduled to visit the Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

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