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No deal on returning Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, White House says

Guantanamo Bay Cuba HavanaEven if President Barack Obama successfully closes the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the naval base there will not be returned to Havana.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that “the naval base is not something that we believe should be closed.”

The Cuban and American governments said in December 2014 that they reached an agreement to begin to normalize relations.

Cuban President Raul Castro earlier this week laid out three conditions for the normalization of relations with its longtime foe: the lifting of an economic embargo, compensation for damages, and the return of the U.S. base at Guantanamo.

“What his comments highlight is that there is a pretty clear difference between re-establishing diplomatic relations and carrying out the longer process of normalizing relations,” Earnest said.

The U.S. has owned the controversial bay since it leased the land and water for a fueling station in 1903. It has been used as a detention facility since 2002 following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the U.S.

More than 100 detainees remain at the facility despite President Barack Obama’s efforts to close it. Congress has placed restrictions on the transfer of detainees, and has prevented the administration from sending them to the U.S. for trial.

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