Two members of Muslim Uighurs were released from the U.S. Guantanamo detention camp and resettled in El Salvador, becoming the first prisoners to leave the facility in more than 15 months, the Pentagon said on Thursday.
The two men, whose names were not released, had been held for more than a decade without charge. A U.S. court in Washington found there was no reason to hold them and ordered them freed in 2008.
The Chinese government has demanded that Uighurs held at Guantanamo be returned to China, but the U.S. government has said it could not do so because they would face persecution, and has searched for countries willing to accept them.
Their transfer to El Salvador reduced the population at the Guantanamo camp for foreign suspects to 169, down from 242 when President Barack Obama took office and unsuccessfully ordered the camp shut down within a year.
Most of the Uighurs who have been held at Guantanamo were captured near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in late 2001. Other Uighur Guantanamo prisoners have been resettled in Switzerland, Bermuda, Albania and the Pacific island of Palau.
Uighurs come from China-held region and many support autonomy or independence from China. There are three Uighurs left at Guantanamo, all of whom have been cleared for release.
"In accordance with statutory reporting requirements, the administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these individuals," the Pentagon said.
It said the transfer was voluntary and had been ordered by a task force set up by the Obama administration in 2009.
"As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these individuals were designated for transfer by unanimous consent among all six agencies on the task force," the Pentagon said.
The men were the first prisoners to leave the detention camp alive since January 2011, when an Algerian captive was involuntarily returned to his homeland despite his claims that he feared abuse there.
Two Afghan prisoners have since died at Guantanamo and their bodies were sent home, one who died of apparent suicide by hanging and the other who collapsed after working out on an exercise machine in his cellblock.
Nearly 800 men have been held at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba since the United States set up the detention center since 2001.
One more is expected to go home soon. The Canadian government received a formal request for transfer this week for Omar Khadr, the last citizen of a western nation held at Guantanamo.
Toronto-born Khadr was 15 when he was kidnapped in Afghanistan, and pleaded guilty in 2010 to "terrorism" charges.He was sentenced to eight additional years in prison as part of a plea agreement that made him eligible for repatriation in October 2011. Now 25, he is the youngest of the remaining prisoners.
Moscow, which denies its troops have a role in the takeover of Crimea, says people there - a small majority of whom are ethnic Russians - should have the right to secede
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to London to meet with his Russian, as Putin and French President Francois Hollande discussed "possibilities for stepping up international support" for a solution
"Syria is now the biggest humanitarian and peace and security crisis facing the world, with violence reaching unthinkable levels," Ban's press office said
In an interview with the France 24 news channel, Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki accused Saudi and Qatar of sponsoring terrorism in his country.
The building is reported to have had gas smells emanating from it for weeks.
His address to the Knesset was staunchly pro-Israeli, and he delighted his hosts by claiming Jewish ancestral roots and talking tough on Iran
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has said Russia is to build two new nuclear power plants in the country.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels have been involved in nearly two decades of conflict that spilled into eastern Congo
Egyptian authorities have tightened their control over the border with the Hamas-run Gaza Strip since last July's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the Egyptian army.
Edward Dolinsky, head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, made a lobbying trip to Jerusalem but not received by officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government.
"Jordan did not bow to these demands because the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) itself has not adopted a unified position on the need to isolate Qatar over its foreign policies," the lawmaker said on condition of anonymity.
Mustafa Jemilev became the first Crimean Tatar leader to meet with a Russian leader in 200 years. The meeting lasted half an hour, after which Jemilev revealed that the two sides had agreed to continue talks.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said "With Chancellor Merkel we both believe that signing of the association agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible would be beneficial"
Belarus would ask Russia to send "no more than 12 to 15 planes", indicating that the request had been made under a clause of a "union treaty"
Police stopped protesters from the RCD and MSP who were showing red signs with the word 'Boycott', saying their demonstration was illegal
The one-day meeting appeared to mirror a series of "Friends of Syria" conferences in which Western and Arab nations pledged political and financial support for the rebels