Afghanistan’s Karzai urges closure of Guantanamo

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday pressed for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison as President Barack Obama mulls a renewed push before a reluctant U.S. Congress.

“I have from the very beginning been a very strong supporter for the closing down of the Guantanamo prison,” Karzai told reporters during a brief visit to Denmark.

Obama’s goal of closing down the prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba has eluded him since he took office. In his first week, Obama signed an executive order for its closure, but Congress has used its budgetary power to block detainees from being moved to the United States.

Karzai said that Afghanistan had asked the U.S. administration for the release of Afghan prisoners being held in Guantanamo.

“We have been in contact with the U.S. for a couple of years about their release,” Karzai said, but did not elaborate.

Karzai was speaking after a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt on the third leg of a regional visit that also took him to Finland and Estonia.

In Copenhagen, Karzai laid a wreath at a war memorial commemorating soldiers killed in action, including more than 40 Danish troops who lost their lives in Afghanistan since Denmark first contributed soldiers to the NATO-led mission in 2001.

Denmark’s military force is situated mainly in the volatile southern Helmand province but is scheduled to pull out of combat operations in August, leaving 300 soldiers to train Afghan forces.

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