On Monday, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met briefly with his Vatican counterpart, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to discuss issues of common concern and to seek the Holy See's aid in relocating Guantanamo detainees. Fr. Federico Lombardi, Holy See press officer, explained Dec. 15 that Kerry noted America's commitment to closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, the military prison where 136 persons are still being held by the US government as part of the “war on terror.” Fr. Lombardi said Kerry expressed a desire for “the Holy See's assistance in seeking adequate humanitarian solutions for current inmates.” Earlier this month, six men who had been held at Guantanamo for more than 10 years and who are not considered security threats were transferred to Uruguay, which took them in as a humanitarian gesture, and where they are now free men. They have received housing, medical care, donations of clothing, Spanish lessons, and some 30 offers of work. Most of the discussion between Kerry and Cardinal Parolin concerned the Middle East and the avoidance of violence there, and in particular considering the resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel. Joining Kerry were Kenneth Hackett, US Ambassador to the Holy See, and two state department staff. Cardinal Parolin was accompanied by three curial officials. The one-hour meeting also touched on the crisis in Ukraine, which has killed more than 4,000 since February; and the Ebola outbreak in west Africa.
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