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Prison should be closed: Bush

Washington, June 14 (Reuters): President George W. Bush acknowledged today that the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where three detainees committed suicide, has damaged America’s image abroad and said it should be shut down.

But he said a plan for relocating the prisoners was needed first and he was also awaiting a supreme court decision about the forum for handling detainee cases.

“I;d like to close Guantanamo, but I also recognise that we’re holding some people there that are darn dangerous and that we better have a plan to deal with them in our courts,” Bush told a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

He said Guantanamo is seen by some countries as an example of the US not upholding the values it espouses on human rights.

“No question, Guantanamo sends, you know, a signal to some of our friends ' provides an excuse, for example, to say: ‘The US is not upholding the values that they’re trying encourage other countries to adhere to,” Bush said.

Two Saudis and a Yemeni were found dead at the prison on Saturday after hanging themselves with clothes and bedsheets.

The suicides were the first prisoner deaths at Guantanamo, although there have been many previous suicide attempts and hunger strikes since the US began sending suspected al Qaida and Taliban captives there in 2002.

Guantanamo is one of several issues that have undermined support abroad and among human rights groups for Washington’s war on terrorism, declared after the September 11 attacks.

The suicides came amid an investigation of US Marines after an alleged massacre of two dozen civilians at Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005 and after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

Elvis homage

Bush and Japan’s Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a huge Elvis Presley fan, will visit Graceland Mansion on June 30 to pay homage to the king of rock ‘’ roll.

Presley moved into the 5 hectare estate in Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1950s and died there in 1977, aged 42.

Elvis fan websites say the Japanese leader is an enthusiastic member of his country’s Elvis Presley fan club.

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