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Defense Department officials say the warmer relationship between the United States and Cuba will not change the future of the American naval base and prison at Guantanamo Bay.

President Barack Obama vowed as a candidate to close Guantanamo, but 136 detainees in the U.S. campaign against terrorism are still housed there, according to the Pentagon. That is down from a high of almost 800.

Cuba has demanded that the United States close the prison. A treaty signed by both countries in 1903 says that the United States can keep the naval base unless it decides to abandon it or the two governments agree on a change.

On Wednesday, Obama announced that the United States would move toward full diplomatic relations with Cuba, including opening an embassy in Havana.

Asked about Guantanamo’s future that same day, a State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said: “The president of the United States and the secretary are moving forward on a policy to close Guantanamo. So that hasn’t changed.”


— Jim Miklaszewski and Abigail Williams