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Obama says US must close Guantanamo Bay

Barack Obama says Guantanamo Bay prison 'undermines national security', urging lawmakers to close the facility
Obama first promised to close Guantanamo upon taking office in 2008 (AA)

US President Barack Obama has said that the continued operation of the US military facility at Guantanamo Bay “undermines our national security”.

“We must close it,” Obama said in a statement marking the signing of the 2015 defense appropriations bill on Friday.

Obama condemned certain provisions of the bill that prevent him from closing the facility on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Individuals from across the political spectrum have recognised that the facility should be closed. But instead of removing unwarranted and burdensome restrictions that curtail the executive branch's options for managing the detainee population, this bill continues them," he said.

Obama pledged to close the facility upon taking office in 2008, but has run up against a confrontational Congress that has opposed sending detainees to the US, including for trial, and has placed restrictions on transferring them to other countries. 

According to the Washington Times, Obama hinted that he may invoke constitutional powers to transfer some of the detainees against Congress' wishes.

“I call on members from both sides of the aisle to work with us to bring this chapter of American history to a close," Obama said.

The US has now sent 19 individuals from the facility to other countries this year alone.

According to the Pentagon, 136 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.

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