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Hunger strike: Obama reiterates vow to close Guantanamo

About 100 of the 166 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison are participating in a hunger strike. The forced feeding of hunger strikers has drawn renewed human rights attention.

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President Barack Obama arrives for a new conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April 30, 2013. A hunger strike among detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison is focusing human rights attention back on the plight of detainees, prompting President Obama to renew his pledge to close the detention facility.

Evan Vucci / AP

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President Barack Obama on Tuesday renewed his pledge to close the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but the impediments that have thwarted him thus far remain.

At a White House news conference, Obama said he would try to persuade Congress to end restrictions that have prevented him from closing the facility. The president's comments followed the arrival Monday of medical reinforcements at the U.S. naval prison to help deal with a hunger strike by about 100 of the 166 detainees there. The forced feeding of detainees has refocused human rights concerns on the issue.

"I don't want these individuals to die," Obama told reporters.

He added that the situation was "not sustainable" and that he had asked advisers to review it. He also said he would press the issue with lawmakers.

"I'm going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that's in the best interest of the American people," he said.

Obama first vowed to close the prison while campaigning for president ahead of his 2008 election. But after Congress passed restrictions on the transfer of detainees to the United States and other countries, the president largely abandoned the issue.

Obama has transferred many prisoners from Guantanamo to other countries and has called for moving the remaining detainees to maximum security facilities in the United States.

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