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Italy Willing To Take Guantanamo Inmates


Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inspects the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the White House in October 2008.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi inspects the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the White House in October 2008.

ROME (Reuters) -- Italy would be willing to help the United States take some prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay prison but it will act in harmony with other European Union countries, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said.

"We will have to see what the majority of other European countries do. If we can do a favor for the American people, for the American government, we will certainly do it," Berlusconi said in an interview with CNN International.

The U.S. Senate last week dealt a blow to President Barack Obama's plans to close the prison by denying him $80 million he had sought to shut it. While most democrats agree Guantanamo should be closed, they are demanding a more detailed plan on what to do with the 240 foreign terrorism suspects held there.

The United States wants other countries to take some of the prisoners.

Berlusconi, in the interview taped on May 23, said the United States has to be helped with Guantanamo because "we cannot think that only they [the United States] fight for all of us," according to a transcript provided by his office on May 25.

Obama last week laid out his case for closing the prison, saying he was trying to clean up a legal "mess" he inherited from former President George W. Bush, who opened the facility in 2002 for suspected militants captured in the U.S. "war on terror."

The prison has long been the target of criticism by human rights groups and many foreign governments, which accused the Bush administration of condoning torture of inmates held there.
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