|MKO rejects Albania’s asylum offer for 210 members||
TEHRAN – An anti-Iranian terrorist organization on Saturday turned down Albania’s offer of asylum to 210 of its members who are living at a former U.S. military base near Baghdad, AP reported.
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha made the offer after meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf, UN envoy in Iraq Martin Kobler, and other officials.
He said that the offer of asylum for the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) members was made for “humanitarian reasons.”
“We really appreciate the Tirana government’s helping hand,” Shahin Gobadi, the Paris-based MKO spokesperson, told AP from Paris in an interview conducted by telephone and e-mail.
Gobadi said that an offer of asylum for only a small portion of the group could not be accepted.
The UN says more than 3,000 MKO members live at the former U.S. base.
Iraq’s government is determined to have the MKO out of the country. The group fought in the 1980s alongside Saddam Hussein’s forces in the Iran-Iraq war.
The refugee camp is located on a former American military base known as Camp Liberty. It is meant to be a temporary way station while the United Nations works to relocate the group abroad.
MKO members reluctantly began moving to Camp Liberty last year. They previously lived in a compound known as Camp Ashraf in northeastern Iraq.
Gobadi said that there were two options: “The first option is the immediate, even temporary transfer of all the residents to the U.S. or to a European country and permanent resettlement from there or the return of all of the residents to Camp Ashraf and the continuation of resettlement process from Ashraf, including transfer to Albania from Ashraf.”
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