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Mr. Obama, he said had “set out more clearly and more authoritatively than ever before the administration’s legal justifications for targeted killing, and the constraints that it operates under,” which had “dispose[d] of a number of myths, including the suggestion that the U.S. is entitled to regard all military-aged males as combatants, and therefore as legitimate targets.”

Mr. Emmerson said he would be “engaging with senior Administration officials in Washington over the coming days and weeks in an effort to put some flesh on the bones” of the president’s speech. 

He also welcomed the president’s new push to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba. Mr. Obama said he was lifting a ban on transferring approved Yemeni detainees to their home country. The end of that ban is key to any effort to empty the center, given that 30 of the 56 prisoners eligible for transfer are Yemeni, according to the Associated Press. There are 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

An adviser to Yemen’s prime minister, Rageh Badi, praised Obama’s decision to lift the ban as a “welcome step” that would improve relations between the two countries, AP reported.

“This is a responsible speech, especially about the closure of the detention center, which has been an insult to the U.S. more than to any other country,” said Mr. Badi.