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July 25, 2013

Yemen's president to visit WH after releasing journalist Obama wanted held

A day after Yemen's president pardoned and released a Yemeni journalist whom Obama once personally lobbied to have remain in jail,the White House announced the chief executive is coming to Washington for a visit.

Yemeni President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi will visit the White House on Aug. 1, the White House said. His visit comes as Obama has pledged to close the detention center at Guanantamo Bay and as Obama has said he's asked Congress to work with him to lift a moratorium on returning Yemenis who make up more than half the population at Guantanamo.

The White House says the visit will "highlight the strength of the U.S.-Yemeni relationship and underscore the United States' ongoing support for Yemen's political transition."

It said Obama would talk with Hadi about U.S. efforts to "enhance democratic governance and support economic development" in Yemen, as well as U.S. efforts to "enable the return of Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo Bay who have been designated for transfer."

Human rights groups say Obama has the authority now to make it happen now: "Talk is cheap," said Zeke Johnson, director of Amnesty International USA's Security & Human Rights program. "Detainees can be transferred home to Yemen today under current U.S. law, and they should be, with full respect for their human rights. It's been more than four years since President Obama ordered the prison closed within a year, and two months since his latest pledge to get the job done."

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