Obama administration ‘in final stages’ of drafting plan to close Guantanamo Bay prison

The Obama administration is in the final stages of drafting a plan to "safely and responsibly" close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, the White House said on Wednesday, raising hopes that the controversial site could still be closed before the end of President Barack Obama's presidency.

"The administration is, in fact, in the final stages of drafting a plan to safely and responsible [close] the prison at Guantanamo Bay and present that plan to Congress," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said at the daily press briefing, responding to a question. "That has been something that our national security officials have been working on for quite some time, primarily because it is a priority of the president."

Earnest added that a number of steps are needed to allow the government to close the facility, though any closure will have to be approved by Congress.

"The first thing is, we need to continue to responsibly transfer to foreign countries those detainees who have been designated for transfer," the spokesman said. "So this is complicated work, but we've made a lot of important progress since the president took office, and just this year the detainee population at the prison at Guantanamo Bay has been reduced from a 127 to a 116."

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