European delegation sets out for Guantanamo Bay prison

French former justice minister Rachida Dati takes part in an inauguration ceremony in Paris, on October 6, 2014 (AFP Photo/Lionel Bonaventure)

Washington (AFP) - A delegation of five European officials led by French former justice minister Rachida Dati will visit the US military detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba this week, aides said Sunday.

Invited by the United States, the delegation's informal visit is meant to help give Europe ideas on how it can help the United States shut down the controversial jail once and for all.

Dati and her delegation of European Parliament members will visit on Tuesday and will also have a chance to see inmates' prison conditions, said Philip Kyle, her parliamentary attache.

President Barack Obama pledged during his 2008 campaign he would make it a priority to close the Guantanamo prison, set up after the September 11 attacks to hold detainees from the US "War on Terror."

Yet attempts to get the job done have been thwarted by domestic and international obstacles, leaving the fate of the jail and its prisoners in limbo.

Of the 142 inmates remaining, a total of 73 have been cleared for release -- some of them years earlier during the administration of Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush -- but they remain incarcerated without charges or trial.

The EU delegation also includes Franck Proust of France; Ramona Manescu from Romania; Eva Paunova from Bulgaria; and Italy's Elisabetta Gardini.