The White House on Thursday wouldn't confirm a report that the administration was in talks with Yemen to set up a detention facility outside its capital city of Sanaa to house suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay and in Afghanistan.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the U.S. government continued "to work on transfers" from Guantánamo but that he wouldn't comment on "conversations or negotiations with the Yemeni government."
"It is and remains the president's goal to close the Gitmo facility," Carney said. "That's a goal shared by many, both Democrats and Republicans, including military leaders, because it's in the interests of our national security in the United States."
Carney's sidestepping came on the heels of a Los Angeles Times report that said U.S. and Yemeni officials were negotiating how the facility would be funded and whether it would function as a prison or type of halfway house to allow detainees to reenter society.
American officials are eager to close the prison complex in Cuba but worry that detainees released back into Yemen could resume terrorist activities. The government in Yemen is wary of setting up another Guantánamo-style prison in their country.
National security spokesman Caitlin Hayden told the Times that the establishment of "a credible, sustainable program would be an important step for the Yemeni government in bolstering their counter-terrorism capabilities."
Earlier this year, President Obama announced the end to a ban that prevented the U.S. from returning detainees to Yemen. Around half of the prisoners at Guantánamo Bay are from Yemen, and 55 have already been designated to return.