Camp Ashraf to be closed by year-end: Zebari
June 22, 2011
TEHRAN – Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari reiterated Baghdad’s position on Tuesday that Camp Ashraf, where the MKO members are held, should be closed by the end of the year.“Our position in this regard is clear. Camp Ashraf will be closed by the end of the current year,” Zabari said in a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi.
He also said that his government has proposed that a joint committee would be established between Iran and Iraq with the involvement of the Red Cross to “decide about the fate of people held in the camp”.
Attempt to free Iranian prisoners
Zebari also said the Iraqi government will spare no effort to help free Iranians being imprisoned in Iraq.
“In the past years, the Iraqi government has released hundreds of Iranian brothers, who were arrested for illegally crossing the border or staying in the country more than the allowed time,” Zebari stated.
“We have always sought to resolve this problem but there are rules and regulations in Iraq which are unfortunately violated (by some Iranians),” he noted.
Iraq has granted pardons to or commuted the sentences of many Iranians out of humanitarian reasons so far, he stated.
On facilities for Iranian pilgrims visiting Iraq, Zebari said his government plans to improve the current facilities, noting that the number of Iranians who come to Iraq on pilgrimage visits has doubled.
Asked if the two countries should lift visa requirements for their nationals, he said, “It is not the right time”.
On dust pollutions that originate from Iraq and once in a while cover large swathes of Iran, Zebari said Iraqi cities are suffering from the dust pollution too, and that this is an environmental pollution caused by bad climatic conditions.
However, in order to solve the problem it is essential to make regional and international efforts, he said, adding Saudi Arabia can play an important role in this regard.