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Trump says Guantanamo prison to stay open in State of Union address

US President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address, applauded by Vice-President Mike Pence (L) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) REUTERS/Win McNamee

US President Donald Trump made a pitch for national unity and strong borders in his first State of the Union address, after a year of political division and scandal. But there were some surprises when it came to foreign policy.

In a one-hour-20-minute address watched by some 40 million Americans, Trump called for Democrats and Republicans to move beyond the angry partisan divide that has characterised US politics since his election.

Starting out by hailing local heroes, those who reacted to save lives in recent natural disasters, he also commended the efforts of ordinary citizens, calling for one team, one people, and one American family to work together.

Immigration and economy

He spoke at length about immigration, calling for bipartisan action to stop the flow illegal immigrants, claiming open borders had allowed drug gangs to pour into US communities.

"It's time to reform these outdated immigration rules and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century," the president said.

However, he indicated that those undocumented immigrants already in the United States were on their way to citizenship provided they "meet education and work requirements and show good moral character."

Trump also praised the boost in the economy, jobs growth and said massive tax cuts had provided tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.

But he said the country needs new roads and waterways and called on Congress to draft legislation that generates at least 1.5 trillion dollars (1.3 trillion euros) for the new infrastructure investment.

North Korea, Guantanamo

On foreign policy, Trump asserted that North Korea's nuclear ambitions pose a danger to world peace, emphasisiing his condemnation of Kim Jong-un's government by inviting the family of Otto Warmbier, an American student who died last year shortly after being released from detention by North Korean authorities.

"You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world," the president told them.

And, in a surprise move, he announced he had signed an executive order to keep the detention facility at Cuba's Guantanamo Bay open.

He asked Congress to authorise "all necessary power" for the US to detain "terrorists" captured abroad.