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Portugal taking 2 Syrian Guantanamo detainees

/ Source: The Associated Press

Portugal has agreed to take two Syrian detainees from Guantanamo prison, the foreign ministry said Friday.

The pair will be accepted on humanitarian grounds and granted special visas, the ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site. The ministry did not provide details on the detainees' identities.

Portugal is the third EU nation, after France and Ireland, to make a firm commitment to take specific prisoners. Many European states have been cool to the idea of taking Guantanamo prisoners off American hands.

The foreign ministry statement said the decision "safeguards aspects related to security (and) the prospects for the successful integration of the chosen former inmates." It did not elaborate.

The closure of Guantanamo prison is "a milestone for the renewal of transatlantic relations and a victory for those who defend and encourage respect for human rights within the context of the fight against terrorism," the statement said.

In December, Portugal was the first country to call for European Union nations to welcome ex-Guantanamo inmates. The EU should help President Barack Obama resolve the problem of how to close the prison, Foreign Minister Luis Amado said.

The EU, which long argued for the prison's closure, agreed in June to "turn the page" on Guantanamo, but said it was up to individual EU members to decide whether to take in detainees from the camp.