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12-18-2008, 02:48 PM
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered plans to be drafted for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, the Pentagon says.

A team was looking at moving inmates from the facility in a way that continued to protect the American people, a spokesman said.

About 250 detainees remain in the controversial camp in Cuba.

US President-elect Barack Obama says closing the camp "in a responsible way" is one of his top priorities.

Mr Obama takes office on 20 January.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Mr Gates - who is to retain his position in the new administration - had wanted to be prepared in case Mr Obama wished to tackle the issue "early in his tenure".

"He has asked his team for a proposal on how to shut it down, what will be required specifically to close it and move the detainees from that facility, and at the same time protect the American people from dangerous terrorists," he said.

The Guantanamo Bay prison opened shortly after the attacks of 11 September 2001. Hundreds of men suspected of links to terrorism or al-Qaeda were held without trial as "unlawful enemy combatants".

Many are now challenging their detention in civilian courts, after the Supreme Court ruled in June that they could.

Some officials have warned that closing the camp will be an extremely complicated process.

But earlier this week, Mr Obama said he aimed to shut the facility within two years.

Source: BBC