Karzai: Obama should close Gitmo

Afghan President Hamid Karzai weighed in on the Guantánamo prison debate Thursday, urging President Obama to close the facility at Guantánamo Bay.

Obama said this week that he is still committed to closing the Cuban detention facility, and that the White House is considering a new push to shutter Guantánamo in the face of congressional opposition.

"I have from the very beginning been a very strong supporter for the closing down of the Guantánamo prison," Karzai told reporters during a visit to Denmark, according to The Associated Press.

The Afghan president also said that Afghanistan has asked for the release of Afghan prisoners currently at Guantánamo.

"We have been in contact with the U.S. for a couple of years about their release," he said, according to the AP.

Karzai and the Obama administration recently reached a deal to transfer a detention facility in Afghanistan to the Karzai government.

Obama signed an executive order in his first week in office to close Guantánamo, but has gained little traction to do so during his first term. Congress has subsequently put up roadblocks making it more difficult for the administration to transfer detainees out of the prison.

There are currently 166 detainees remaining at Guantánamo, and more than half are now taking part in a hunger strike.

Asked about hunger strikes at a press conference Tuesday, Obama said, “It is not a surprise to me that we’ve got problems in Guantánamo.”

“I'm going to go back at this,” he said of the effort to close the prison. “I've asked my team to review everything that's currently being done in Guantánamo, everything that we can do administratively. And I'm going to reengage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the American people.”