Yemenis hold a protest demanding the release of inmates on hunger strike, outside the US embassy, Sanaa, April 16, 2013
Yemenis hold a protest demanding the release of inmates on hunger strike, on April 16, 2013 outside the US embassy in Sanaa. Yemen said Thursday it welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to lift a moratorium on transfers of prisoners from Guantanamo to Yemen. © Mohammed Huwais - AFP/File
Yemenis hold a protest demanding the release of inmates on hunger strike, outside the US embassy, Sanaa, April 16, 2013
AFP
Last updated: May 24, 2013

Yemen welcomes US decision on Guantanamo prisoner transfers

Yemen welcomed President Barack Obama's decision to lift a moratorium on transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay to the Gulf country.

Obama announced the move in a major speech outlining a new bid to close the "war on terror" prison, saying history will "cast a harsh judgment" on the offshore detention program and those who failed to end it.

He plans to lift a moratorium in place on transfers of Yemeni detainees to their homeland, name a new envoy to handle the transfers and ordered the Pentagon to designate a site in the United States for military trials of the detainees.

"The government of Yemen (GOY) welcomes President Obama's remarks and actions today. In particular, Yemen welcomes the administration's decision to lift the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen," said Mohammed Albasha, the spokesman for Sanaa's embassy in Washington.

The country will "take all necessary steps to ensure the safe return of its detainees and will continue working toward their gradual rehabilitation and integration back into society," he added.

"Yemen's partnership with the United States is strong, and GOY values the ongoing cooperation to tackle mutual threats and promote the unity, stability and prosperity of the nation."

Guantanamo still holds 166 inmates, and the Yemenis among them are the largest group by nationality.

Of the 86 detainees who have been cleared for transfer or release, 56 are from Yemen, where Al-Qaeda has found a foothold.

But their return was halted after a Nigerian who had been trained in Yemen tried to detonate explosives in his underwear on a flight to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

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