U.S. President Barack Obama committed himself Thursday to providing more transparency in counterterrorism operations using drones and presented a new plan to close the prison at Guantanamo.

In a speech at the National Defense University on the outskirts of Washington, Obama extended a hand to the Muslim community to prevent violent extremism and supported the idea of the United States no longer being in "continual warfare" against terrorism.

"What we can do - what we must do - is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend," Obama said.

"We must define our effort not as a boundless 'global war on terror' - but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America," he continued.

The president announced that he had signed a memorandum defining the circumstances under which Washington will use drones in the future against presumed terrorists and said that the use of the unmanned aircraft is legal and "has saved lives."

With regard to Guantanamo, "there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened," Obama emphasized.

In addition to lifting the moratorium on sending prisoners to Yemen, the president announced that he will appoint "a new, senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries."

Of the 166 prisoners currently held in the prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, 86 have been given the green light to be released.

"To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and military justice system," Obama said.

The hunger strike being waged for the past three months by about 100 Guantanamo prisoners has highlighted warnings about conditions within the facility and has revived the debate about its closure, which was one of Obama's campaign promises during his first presidential run in 2008. EFE