EU to remove Iranian group from terror list

January 23rd, 2009 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Brussels, Jan 23 (DPA) European Union (EU) foreign ministers are expected to remove the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI) from their list of terrorist organisations when they meet in Brussels Monday to discuss a variety of issues, including Guantanamo, Gaza and future relations with Russia and Ukraine.The move follows a favourable ruling by the European Court in Luxembourg, which in December said the EU was wrong to keep the PMOI’s assets frozen after it was taken off a British list of terrorist organisations.

Founded in 1965, the PMOI operated a military wing in its early years, but says it renounced violence in June 2001 and now advocates the overthrow of Iran’s current government.

A member of the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran, the PMOI has played an active role in denouncing Iran’s nuclear programme.

The EU generally reviews its terrorist list every six months.

While in Brussels, foreign ministers are also expected to hold a first discussion on whether to host inmates due to be released from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, which new US President Barack Obama wants to close.

The Pentagon has identified 60 detainees who can be released, but is looking to Europe for help since many of them would face abuse and torture if sent back to their countries of origin in the Middle East.

But EU governments are currently divided, with only Portugal having expressed a clear commitment to help Obama.

Diplomats in Brussels note that one major obstacle is posed by the EU’s Schengen free-movement space, which has done away with systematic passport controls and allows citizens to cross borders easily.

Another delicate topic on their agenda concerns the situation in the Gaza Strip, following this week’s talks in Brussels with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and other major players from the region.

Ministers are expected to urge the sides to make the current ceasefire permanent. Hamas must stop any further rocket attacks against Israel, arms smuggling into Gaza must be prevented, while Israel must facilitate the re-opening of border crossings, especially for humanitarian reasons, ministers are expected to say.

About 40 EU monitors are currently on standby in Israel, ready to be redeployed to the Rafah crossing, which they left in 2007, as soon as an agreement between the sides is reached, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said earlier this week.

Ministers are also expected to discuss the bloc’s future relations with Russia and Ukraine following an ugly and drawn out commercial dispute that ended up cutting gas supplies to Europe for two weeks, leaving thousands of homes without heating.

While the bloc did not officially take sides during the stand-off, top EU officials have since warned that both Moscow and Kiev have lost their credibility as reliable gas suppliers as a result.

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