Foreign ministers will on 26 January discuss how to respond to an expected request from Barack Obama to resettle Guantánamo Bay detainees in the European Union. Obama, who will be inaugurated as US president next week (20 January), has said that closing Guantánamo will be one of his priorities upon taking office. Resettling detainees who fear persecution in their home countries is seen as one of the most difficult challenges associated with shutting the centre. The topic has been put on the foreign ministers’ agenda by the Czech presidency of the EU at the request of Portugal. Luís Amado, the Portuguese foreign minister, announced in December that his country was willing to resettle some Guantámamo detainees on its territory to help close the centre. Around 50 of the detainees still held in Guantánamo Bay have been deemed by the US authorities to be innocent of any involvement in terrorism, but cannot be sent back to their home countries because of the risk of being persecuted by the authorities. The administration of George W. Bush made repeated, but failed, attempts to secure agreement from EU governments to resettle these detainees. The only country to have accepted is Albania, which took eight people (five Uighurs from China, one Egyptian, one Uzbek and one Algerian) in 2006. Signal of willingness Amado sent a letter to Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, on 10 December, saying that “the time has come for the EU to step forward” and that the EU “should send a clear signal of willingness to help the US government in that regard, namely through the resettlement of detainees”. Micheál Martin and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Irish and German foreign ministers, have both indicated that they would look favourably on a request from Obama to resettle detainees. Martin has described resettlement of detainees in Ireland as a “logical” consequence of calls by the Irish government for the closure of Guantánamo, while Steinmeier sent an open letter to Obama on Monday (12 January), saying: “I am sure the international community will not abandon your new administration in dealing with this task”. A German government spokesperson said in December that discussions with the US on resettling detainees should be taken forward in a “European context”. Ivan Langer, the Czech interior minister, said on 8 January that he had discussed the resettlement of Guantánamo detainees with Jacques Barrot, the European commissioner for justice and home affairs. A spokesperson for Barrot said that the Commission “could become involved in this under the angle of asylum”, but that it was “too early at this stage” to say what its role could be.