US wants Vatican help in closing Gitmo

Washington looks to leverage some Holy See klout in South America as it tries to find homes for detainees.

US Secretary of State John Kerry wants some help from Rome in convincing heavily Catholic countries in Latin America to resettle detainees from Guantanamo Bay.

Kerry met with his Vatican counterpart Cardinal Pietro Parolin in Rome, and the Holy See’s Press Office says the US asked for “assistance in seeking adequate humanitarian solutions for current inmates”.

A State Department official tells DC Dispatches the US wants further public Vatican support for closing the prison. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops for example has repeatedly called for Guantanamo to be closed, most recently in an open letter to the State Department just last week.

But the Vatican could also play a behind-the-scenes role in encouraging countries to resettle detainees cleared for release. Which countries are we talking about? Latin American countries with Catholic populations. The US has worked with countries in Latin American to resettle detainees: six detainees were just sent to Uruguay for example, and more are expected to be resettled in the region. The Vatican could be helpful in moving those resettlement conversations along according to this official.

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