By Sam Youngman - 06/05/09 09:06 AM EDT
President Obama spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday about his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison, but he said he did not ask for, and did not receive, any commitment from her to take any of the detainees.
Ahead of his visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp, Obama and Merkel were asked about any progress on the situation, which the president acknowledged is politically "difficult in my country; it's difficult internationally."
"We have spoken to the European Union about the possibilities of working with us and helping us in managing the closure of Guantanamo," Obama said at a press conference in Dresden. "Chancellor Merkel has been very open to discussions with us. We have not asked her for hard commitments, and she has not given us any hard commitments beyond having a serious discussion about [whether] there [are] ways that we can solve this problem."
The president has come under fire from Republicans and some Democrats for not having a specific plan to close the facility. A review is under way for an approach to relocating the detainees, but Obama is holding steadfast to his deadline of closing the facility by January.
Merkel hinted Friday that the absence of a concrete plan moving forward makes it difficult for Germany or other European Union nations to make any firm commitments.
The chancellor said that "when there is a solution in the offing we will constructively contribute to it."
"Now there are talks going on of the minister of the Interior with the American side, very intensive discussions, which we wish to continue," Merkel said. "And at the very end I am absolutely confident that we will find a common solution."
The president and Merkel were scheduled to tour the former concentration camp at Buchenwald later in the day.
Obama is scheduled to spend Saturday in Normandy, commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Allied landing at the French beach.