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Homeland Security

Saudi Foreign Minister Urges More Detainee Releases From Guantanamo

19 May 2006

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister says he hopes the United States will release more prisoners from the detention facility at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Prince Saud al-Faisal says he hopes this week's transfer of 15 Saudi nationals from Guantanamo Bay will be followed by more detainee releases in the future, and expressed disdain for the controversial facility in general.

"We are very happy and pleased to have received the 15 Saudis that were released,” he said, “and we are hoping that the rest of them will be released as time goes on. And, if all prisoners leave the place, then I really do not care what happens to the place."

The foreign minister spoke with reporters after meeting with President Bush for what White House officials termed a "strategic dialogue" on counter-terrorism, energy and regional issues. Prince Saud al-Faisal said he discussed Iraq and Iran with Mr. Bush, and said he is convinced that the president is doing everything possible to bring security and stability to the Middle East region.

Earlier, the United Nations Committee Against Torture urged the United States to close the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, where suspected al-Qaida and Taleban prisoners have been held since late 2001. Some 460 detainees are currently being held at the facility, including scores of Saudi nationals.

Speaking with reporters, White House spokesman Tony Snow noted that President Bush has also expressed a desire to one day bring the detainee operation at Guantanamo Bay to a close. But he said the president is awaiting a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court as to whether the accused terrorists and combatants will face charges in a civilian or military court. In the meantime, Snow said, the United States treats all detainees humanely.

U.S. military sources at Guantanamo Bay report a clash Thursday between detainees and guards, who were attempting to prevent a suicide bid. Prisoners are said to have used improvised weapons against the security personnel, who successfully intervened to keep a detainee from hanging himself.

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