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Venezuelan offer for Guantanamo

Hugo Chavez (left) at the Arab-South American summit on Doha, 31 March
Mr Chavez also called for the US to hand back Guantanamo to Cuba

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he is prepared to receive detainees held by the US military at the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba.

US President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of the controversial camp, in which around 240 inmates are held, by next year.

Mr Chavez made his offer at a summit of South American and Arab countries.

It is highly unlikely the Pentagon will take him up on it, however, given the poor state of US ties with Venezuela.

When the Obama administration made it clear it was looking for willing allies to take on detainees from Guantanamo Bay they probably had not imagined an offer coming from Hugo Chavez, the BBC's Will Grant reports from Caracas.

Nevertheless, the Venezuelan leader's proposal stands.

"We wouldn't have any problem in taking in human beings," Mr Chavez told Arabic TV channel al-Jazeera at the summit in Doha, Qatar, where he has been pushing for closer ties with the Arab world.

President Chavez also renewed his calls for Guantanamo Bay to be returned to Cuba, saying the US should finish with "this miserable prison".

A summit of the Americas is to be held in Trinidad and Tobago later this month and many observers are waiting to see if Mr Obama will meet Mr Chavez following years of hostility between the two nations, our correspondent adds.



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