US & Canada

US President Barack Obama makes Guantanamo closure plan

Obama Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Obama will travel to San Bernardino to visit the families of the victims of 2 December terror attacks

President Obama is delivering a year-end address before heading to San Bernardino to visit families bereaved by the terror attacks.

The speech and the trip to California are his last scheduled appearances before going to Hawaii for holiday until the new year.

He is taking questions from reporters. Here is a sample of his answers, with some analysis from the BBC's Laura Trevelyan in Washington.


Guantanamo Bay

Guantanamo continues to be one of the key magnets for jihadi recruitment.

President Obama
Reuters

Mr Obama said it was his expectation by early next year to have reduced the prison population at the camp in Cuba to below 100.

He said he will present a plan to Congress to close it, keeping back the threat of using his executive powers if Congress rejects it.

Laura Trevelyan: The president who was elected on a platform to close Guantanamo Bay because it represented a stain on American values has been constantly frustrated by Congress. Now on this issue, as on so many others including immigration and gun control, the president is considering whether to use his executive authority to circumvent lawmakers.


Who he thinks will win in 2016

I think I'm going to have a Democratic successor and I will campaign very hard to make that happen.

President Obama
Getty Images

Mr Obama made it clear that when the general election comes along, he will be a key part of the Democratic campaign.

Obama coalition voters will be an important piece for the Democratic nominee to retain.

Laura Trevelyan: If after eight years of President Obama in office, the American people don't vote for the Democrat's nominee in 2016, this will be seen at least partially as a rejection of the Obama legacy and his signature policy of Obamacare.


Defeating the so-called Islamic State

We're going to defeat ISIS by systematically squeezing them

President Obama
AP

President Obama said he is confident the US will defeat IS, and for that to happen, the Syrian civil war needs to end.

"Lawless areas" in the Middle East must be contained so extremists cannot take hold, he said. He did not indicate he would change his approach to fighting IS.

Laura Trevelyan: President Obama knows he must reassure Americans anxious about ISIS after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks - and justify his approach of using air strikes and US special ops forces to defeat the group, rather than the carpet bombing approach advocated by some Republican candidates running to replace him in the White House.


A Star Wars signoff

Okay everybody, I got to go to Star Wars

President Obama
AP

"Clearly, this is not the most important event that is taking place in the White House today. There is a screening of 'Star Wars' for Gold Star Families and children coming up," Mr Obama said at the beginning of the press conference. Gold Star Families is an organisation for those who lost family members in the Iraq War.

Laura Trevelyan: A jokey, relaxed end to the press conference by a president who clearly feels this year under his leadership has seen America's economy grow and he's delivered landmark agreements on climate change and Iran's nuclear programme. Quite a change from the miserable press conference two years ago when the healthcare website had crashed.

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