SAN'A, Yemen Yemen's government held talks Thursday with a visiting U.S. delegation in hopes of securing the release of about 100 Yemenis held at the Guantanamo Bay prison, a Yemeni official said.
The Yemeni detainees make up the largest national group of prisoners remaining at the facility on a U.S. naval base in Cuba.
Yemen's government has given the U.S. delegation assurances that it will put detainees on trial if they are suspected of terrorism, said Ali Saleh, a senior official at the country's Human Rights Ministry.
The U.S. delegation, made up of officials from the Pentagon and the State Department, arrived Tuesday, Yemen's state-run news agency reported.
The U.S. Embassy in Yemen's capital, San'a, would not comment.
According to a Yemeni security official, the visiting Americans have questioned the Yemeni government's capability and seriousness in setting up a "rehabilitation program" to ensure the detainees won't pose a risk upon their return. The official, who is part of the Yemeni delegation, spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to journalists.
The initial plan is to release the 104 detainees in groups, starting with those who are not considered dangerous, according to the official.
The Yemeni government worries that locking up former Guantanamo detainees in Yemen could threaten alliances that President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been forging with Islamic fundamentalist parties.
The U.S. military prison in southeast Cuba entered its seventh year in operation in early January. Only one Yemeni was among a record 100 detainees released from Guantanamo over the past seven months.
Thirteen Yemenis have been repatriated from Guantanamo since the detention center opened. After being returned, they were questioned and released because they were not wanted for crimes in Yemen. Washington demands that Yemen make assurances that former Guantanamo detainees won't be a threat.
In October, the State Department threatened to withhold aid from Yemen after it reportedly released a convicted plotter of the bombing of the USS Cole. Seventeen American sailors died in the 2000 attack in Aden harbor in Yemen. Yemen later said that the plotter was in custody.