Iraq extends deadline for Camp Ashraf closure

"The secretary general of the United Nations presented a suggestion for the Iraqi government, asking to postpone (the closure)...and we agreed," Maliki told reporters, adding that the six-month extension started in November.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/21/us-iraq-campashraf-idUSTRE7BK1I820111221

Iraq on Wednesday extended a year-end deadline to close an Iranian dissident camp by six months, responding to a request by the U.N., which is mediating the resettlement of its more than 3,000 residents, to delay the closure.

The 25-year-old Camp Ashraf, home to the People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran, or PMOI, an Iranian opposition group that the United States and Iran officially consider a terrorist group, is some 65 km (40 miles) from Baghdad.

Iraq's Premier Nuri al-Maliki said he had agreed to extend the deadline on condition the U.N. transfer about 400-800 residents to other countries before the end of this year.

"The secretary general of the United Nations presented a suggestion for the Iraqi government, asking to postpone (the closure)...and we agreed," Maliki told reporters, adding that the six-month extension started in November.

The case is now in the hands of the U.N. We hope they will close this file, we don't want to hand them to Iran," Maliki said at a press conference.

"We don't want to kill them, we don't want to abuse them and we don't want to make them starve. But their presence is illegal, so under any title, this has to end."

In the 1970s the group, which is also known as the Mujahadin-e Khalq (MEK), led a guerrilla campaign against the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran, including attacks on U.S. targets.


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