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01/24/09

Iraq to close MKO camp in two months

TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (Mehr News Agency) - Iraqi National Security advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie said on Friday that Baghdad plans to close down the Ashaf military camp where the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) members are held under house arrest.

Iraq is also seeking to extradite the Mojahedin Khalq members who have taken refuge in Iraq since early 1980s, Rubaie told reporters in a joint news conference with Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili in Tehran.

The Mojahedin Khalq launched a campaign of assassinations and bombings in Iran immediately after the Islamic Revolution.

The group was supported by Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war but was disarmed after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Saddam also used the terror group in suppressing Shiite and Kurdish dissidents in southern and northern Iraq.

Rubaie said, "Among the members of this group, some have the blood of Iraqi innocents on their hands and we will hand them over to Iraqi justice, and some who have Iranian blood on their hands we can hand over to Iran."

"The only choices open to members of this group are to return to Iran or to choose another country," he stated.

The Iraqi envoy said "Some of the MKO members have expressed interest to return to Iran and we are making the arrangements for this."

"We are acting under international humanitarian regulations and international laws. These people will themselves choose where they want to go."

Rubaie said that 914 MKO members have a passport or residence of a third country and could leave Iraq for these countries.

He said on his return to Iraq he would discuss with the ambassadors of the United States and a dozen European countries to see if they would accept MKO members.

The top Iraqi security official stated that hundreds of MKO members have already returned to their families with the help of the Red Cross organization.

The Iraqi government announced on December 21 it planned to close the Ashraf camp north of Baghdad and close to the Iranian border.

On January 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki went further and said he would expel the MKO from the country.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Rubaie said Iraq is ready to take control of its domestic affairs even sooner than the 16-months deadline set by U.S. President Barak Obama.

Iraq and the United States have signed a security deal that calls for the U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. However, Obama, during his campaign for presidency vowed to withdraw combat forces from Iraq within 16 months from taking office.

Iraqi people and security forces are more than ever ready to take care of the country's affairs and currently 95 percent of domestic issues are controlled by Iraqis, Rubaie said.

Jalili also stated that Iraq's repeated announcements that it is ready to take control of the situation inside the county leaves no excuse for the continuation of occupation by foreign forces.

Turning to diplomatic relations with Iran, Rubaie said Iraq has signed a highly important agreement with the Islamic Republic after receiving "positive responses" from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"We are leaving Tehran by achieving a very important deal because we raised important issues in our negotiations and received positive, strong and documented responses," he explained.

Rubaie, however, did not elaborate on the content of the agreement.

Iraq says Iranian diplomats detained by U.S. are 'innocent'

TEHRAN, Jan. 23 (Mehr News Agency) - Iraqi national security advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie said on Friday that Baghdad believes Iranian diplomats detained by U.S. forces are "innocent".

U.S. troops broke into the Iranian consulate in Irbil, northern Iraq, in January 2007 and arrested five Iranians accusing them of fomenting violence in Iraq. Two of the detainees were later released.

The Iranian detainees "have not committed any offence", Rubaie told reporters in a joint news conference with Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary Saeed Jalili in Tehran.

Baghdad will ask U.S. officials to provide evidence for their claims against the Iranian diplomats when it fully takes control of the country's affairs from American forces, he noted.

The Iranian diplomats are being held at a U.S. prison camp in Iraq. The United States Defense Department has stated that they are "still being interrogated" and that it has "no plans to free them" accusing them of undermining security in Iraq.

... Payvand News - 01/24/09 ... --



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