Re-engagement with Cuba will not affect the status of the U.S.’ Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, the White House said Wednesday, according to McClatchy DC.

President Barack Obama's announcement of restored relations between the two companies came as Cuba released Alan Gross, an American who has been held there for five years. The U.S. released three Cuban nationals in exchange.

Cuba reportedly asked the U.S. to return Guantanamo, a 45-square-mile plot of land on the southeast tip of the island, but the U.S declined. American military has detained high-value prisoners captured in the War on Terror there since 2002.

Obama said his broad approach to Cuba will include re-establishing a diplomatic relationship, easing travel restrictions so as to reconnect families and promote economic growth in Cuba, and ending an embargo that went into effect in 1960. Lifting the embargo would require a vote in Congress.

The status of the Guantanamo Bay facilities is not mentioned in either of the White House’s press releases on Cuba, even though the administration stated it did in fact want to close the controversial facility. A number of Guantanamo prisoners -- who do not have the right of habeas corpus -- have gone on hunger strike to protest their continued imprisonment without trial.

A number of Guantanamo detainees were subject to the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques," which critics call torture, before they were interned there. An exhaustive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee released last week shed light on the tactics.







The U.S. began leasing the Guantanamo Bay patch of land in 1903 and is supposed to pay Cuba just over $4,000 per year for the lease, but the Cuban government hasn’t accepted a payment since the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power, according to CNN.

Obama issued an executive order in 2009 that set in motion reviews and a planned closure of the detention facility within the year, but that process has dragged on and 136 detainees remain there