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Obama vetoes US defense bill

In a rare move, US President Barack Obama has vetoed a defense bill that would prevent the closure of Guantanamo. Republicans have vowed to override the veto, saying the decision puts "national security at risk."

US President Barack Obama on Thursday vetoed a $612-billion defense budget approved by the Republican-dominated Congress, saying it "falls woefully short" of the military's needs.

"We have repeatedly put forward a series of reforms eliminating reforms that the Pentagon does not want, Congress keeps stuffing 'em back in," Obama added.

While Obama said the bill did "a number of good things," including extending funding for cyber security, the president added that it resorted to "gimmicks" and funded unwanted programs.

The budget "prevents a wide range of reforms that are necessary for us to get our military modernized," Obama said in a statement.

Closing Guantanamo

The defense bill also included provisions to prevent the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center, effectively

blocking the ability for detainees to be relocated

to military facilities on US soil.

"Guantanamo is one of the premiere mechanisms for jihadists to recruit; it is time for us to close it. It's outdated, it's expensive," Obama said.

Closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center has eluded Obama

since he entered office due to staunch Republican opposition.

Dozens of people accused of terrorist activities have been held without charge at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center

Dozens of suspected terrorists have been held without charge at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center

Overriding veto?

Meanwhile, US

House Speaker John Boehner

lashed out at Obama, saying the move "put America's national security at risk."

Republicans have vowed to overcome the presidential veto, only Obama's fifth since he assumed office.

However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats in the lower chamber is committed to sustaining Obama's veto.

The move was also hailed by rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which has campaigned for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

ls/bw (AP, AFP, dpa)

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