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Vatican presses US over Guantanamo

The Vatican is asking the United States to find an "adequate humanitarian solution" for prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

The Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, made the request during a meeting with US secretary of state John Kerry.

The two sides discussed the US's commitment to closing the facility, Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi said.

He said Mr Parolin expressed the Holy See's desire that "favourable attention" be paid to finding a solution for the inmates.

Pope Francis has spoken out forcefully about the need to protect prisoners' dignity and, without citing the US by name, harshly criticised the policy of extraordinary renditions used after September 11 2001.

He has also denounced life sentences and the use of isolation for inmates.

The Pope has also denounced life prison terms as a "hidden death penalty" and said putting inmates in isolation was a form of "physical and psychological torture".

He dedicated much time as archbishop of Buenos Aires and as pope to ministering to inmates.

Just last weekend, he sent a letter of Christmas greetings to inmates at a prison in Latina, urging them to use their time in detention for personal and spiritual growth.

President Barack Obama has launched a new push to close Guantanamo and recently a dozen prisoners were transferred out, leaving about 130 from a high of 700 on the US base in Cuba.

A senior US State Department official said Kerry "described recent progress in our diplomatic efforts to transfer detainees to third countries, including to Uruguay".


From Belfast Telegraph