There is "no plan" to return the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to Cuba despite Wednesday's announcement of renewed diplomatic relations between the two former foes, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said Thursday.
"No anticipation and no plan with respect to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Station," Carter said at a press conference Wednesday.
The facility would be just one of the issues that would keep the the U.S. and Cuba from establishing full diplomatic ties. On Tuesday, as President Obama was lauding the new relationship, the Cuban government said that to reach full relations with the U.S., it would be "indispensable that the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base is returned." The Cuban government's statement had other demands, including that U.S. broadcasts over Cuba cease and that the island nation would be compensated for years of sanctions.
Of the almost 800 detainees once held at the detention facility, 115 remain locked up there. Fifty-one of those detainees are approved for transfer, but escalating violence and instability in Middle Eastern countries where the detainees could go and Congress' opposition to the transfers limit the administration's options.
Last month, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., said he is willing to work with the Obama administration to advance a plan to close the center. The 2016 defense bill, which still needs to be approved by Congress, includes a provision to allow the administration to move forward with closure if it submits a plan that Congress approves.