News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraqIraqi Defence Minister says Iran opposition group can remain...

Iraqi Defence Minister says Iran opposition group can remain in Iraq

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Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Jul. 07 – Iraqi Defence Minister Sa’adun al-Dulaimi, in a joint press conference with Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani, announced today that the main Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK) could continue to remain at its base on Iraqi soil, despite pressure from Tehran which seeks to have members of the group extradited. Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 07 – Iraqi Defence Minister Sa’adun al-Dulaimi, in a joint press conference with Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani, announced today that the main Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MeK) could continue to remain at its base on Iraqi soil, despite pressure from Tehran which seeks to have members of the group extradited.

“The Mojahedin can stay in Iraq if they act like political refugees”, al-Dulaimi said.

The Iraqi Defence Minister added that the MeK would not be welcomed if they carry out cross-border raids into Iran. The group has ceased all military activities since mid-2001. Quelling Iranian fears of a possible American attack on Iran, al-Dulaimi also said, “No one can use its soil to attack Iraq’s neighbours”.

The MeK and the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA) have been based on the Iraqi side of the Iran-Iraq border since 1986. Their main base is at Ashraf City, northeast of Baghdad.

Tehran had been trying to secure a deal with American and Interim Iraqi government officials to have members of the MeK extradited to Iran, however last July the MeK were recognised by United States forces as “protected persons” under the Fourth Geneva Convention since they did not take part in the Iraq war.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs treatment of civilians in wartime, “protected persons” are those who fall under the control of an occupying power or a country involved in the conflict. Among the most significant rights they are granted are protection against collective punishment and against expulsion.

During the press conference, al-Dulaimi also said it was not yet the time for U.S. troops to leave Iraq. “At the present state, there will be nothing but chaos and more trouble if foreign forces were to leave Iraq”, he said.

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