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World Welcomes US Order to Close Guantanamo Prison


Much of the world is welcoming President Barack Obama's decision to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, but the global response also indicates an awareness of the challenges involved in shutting down the unpopular detention facility.

In Europe, many countries that have been urging closure of the prison for years are now debating whether to take in ex-detainees after they are released - decisions with serious political and security implications.

In Afghanistan, where many of the detainees were captured, President Hamid Karzai said closing Guantanamo will make it easier to win international support for the war against terrorism.

Human rights groups said ordering the prison's closure is a step in the right direction, but they also are urging the new administration to follow through.

Amnesty International said it "sends an important message to the rest of the world that the USA is now closing a dark chapter in its history." Human Rights Watch official Jennifer Daskal said, "By shutting down a global symbol of abuse [it] will deprive terrorists of a powerful recruitment tool."

China Thursday called again for the return of 17 Chinese nationals being held at Guantanamo. The men are Uighurs, a Muslim minority group living in part of northwestern China.

And Cuba called for the closure of the entire U.S. military base at Guantanamo. In an interview with Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, Cuban President Raul Castro said the base should be shut down and the territory it occupies returned to what he calls its legal owners - the Cuban people.

In Saudi Arabia, the families of some detainees still being held in the prison have welcomed the decision to close it, hoping to be reunited with their relatives. But a number of former Guantanamo detainees said the decision has come too late.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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