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U.S. urges Iraq to address concerns of Iranian dissidents

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The State Department on Wednesday urged Iraq to continue its efforts to address humanitarian concerns raised by Iranian dissidents at a camp near Baghdad.

A group of about 400 Iranians, members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MeK), was transferred Wednesday from Camp Ashraf to Camp Liberty, near the Iraqi capital's international airport.

The Iraqi government has "made considerable efforts to achieve a peaceful and secure resolution for the residents of Camp Ashraf, and we urge continued steps to address humanitarian concerns raised at [Camp Liberty] by the residents," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has close ties to Iran, has sought to shut Camp Ashraf.

So far, about 2,400 of Camp Ashraf's more than 3,000 residents have been transferred to Camp Liberty under a deal brokered by the United Nations in December.

The relocation stalled for more than three months over the MeK's complaints about dire humanitarian conditions, including an inadequate supply of water and electricity, at Camp Liberty.

This month, the MeK leadership, which is based in Paris, agreed in a "goodwill gesture" to send another group of Camp Ashraf residents to Camp Liberty.

Ms. Nuland welcomed the safe arrival of the new convoy of Iranians at Camp Liberty, saying the U.S. is "encouraged by this resumption of cooperation by the Ashraf residents in the relocation process."

She called on Camp Ashraf's leaders to continue cooperating with "the expeditious relocation" of the remaining residents.

Ms. Nuland said there has been progress in addressing humanitarian conditions at Camp Liberty, and she cited the start of construction of a water purification plant.

The U.S. is committed to working toward the resolution of humanitarian issues at Camp Liberty, including sustainable means for the continued supply of water and electricity, she said.

She reiterated a U.S. commitment to the safety and security of the Iranians throughout the relocation process.

Meanwhile, Camp Ashraf residents said they were attacked Monday by Iraqi security forces and 20 residents were injured.

The U.S. listed the MeK as a foreign terror group in 1997. A U.S. appeals court in June ordered Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to decide within four months on removing the MeK from the list.

Mrs. Clinton has linked the MeK's cooperation in relocation to Camp Liberty to taking the group off the terror list. Ms. Nuland reiterated that position Wednesday.

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