UK call to help close Guantanamo
It is thought about 50 detainees have been cleared for release
The British government is pressing European countries to help resettle inmates from Guantanamo Bay detention centre, the Foreign Office has said.
US president-elect Barack Obama plans to close the camp in Cuba. Some 50 of the 250 inmates are said to have been given release clearance.
The Times newspaper reported Britain was preparing to deal with detainees.
Britain has not overtly offered asylum, but said it accepted the US would need help closing the facility.
The US cannot repatriate all the detainees owing to the risk of mistreatment in their home countries, and it remains unknown what status they will be given in countries they are moved to.
Portugal has offered to take some and Germany is considering following suit.
The Foreign Office said: "We have made it clear that we think Guantanamo Bay should be closed.
"We recognise the legal, technical and other difficulties and that the US will require assistance from allies and partners to make this happen."
An article in the Times newspaper quotes a Downing Street official as saying Britain was putting in place a process to deal with detainees and decisions "would be for the home secretary on a case-by-case basis".
It also quotes a Whitehall source as saying: "Of course the Foreign Office wants to do it, they want to get off to a good start with Obama.
"This is the sort of thing that will require a Cabinet-level decision."
The Conservative Party demanded that Foreign Secretary David Miliband clarify the situation.
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: "The Foreign Secretary must explain urgently whether this is true, how many Guantanamo inmates would be admitted to Britain, by what criteria they would be selected, and what assurances would be given about their behaviour in the future."
It is understood some suspects will be tried on the US mainland, but others, who have been cleared for release, have not been accepted by their home countries or neutral countries.
For example, the US said a group of Muslim Uighurs from western China's Xinjiang province could be freed.
But the only country willing to take them is China, where the men fear they could face persecution as dissidents.
Britain has taken back all British nationals and also four inmates who were formerly British residents though not nationals.
The Foreign Office said it was continuing to press for the release of the two remaining former British residents.
In an open letter in December, Portugal's foreign minister urged fellow EU states to accept Guantanamo detainees.
The German foreign ministry later said it was looking into the legal, political and practical implications of such a move.
BBC World Affairs correspondent Mike Wooldridge said it was understood there were some divisions in Europe over the issue.
The matter may be raised at a meeting of the EU's general affairs and external relations council later this month.
The US has made no formal request to the EU, and there is unlikely to be one before the Obama administration takes office.
The president-elect has indicated that he wants the Guantanamo camp - where men suspected of links to terrorism or al-Qaeda have been held without trial as "unlawful enemy combatants" - to be closed within two years.