19 Dec 2008

US prepares plans to close Guantanamo Bay

3:16 pm on 19 December 2008

The United States Defence Secretary Robert Gates has ordered plans to be drafted for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

The Pentagon says a team is looking at moving inmates from the facility in a way that continued to protect the American people.

About 250 detainees remain in the contentious camp in Cuba.

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

Mr Obama said earlier this week that he aimed to close the facility within two years.

Meanwhile, Cuban President Raul Castro has proposed a swap of prisoners between Cuba and the US as a goodwill gesture that could pave the way for talks with the incoming administration of Barack Obama.

Mr Castro says Cuba would release an unspecified number of political dissidents if the US agreed to release five Cubans serving prison terms for spying.