BAGHDAD, Xinhua – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Monday that Iraq wanted to expel the Iranian rebel Mujahideen Khalq Organization (MKO) that opposes the Islamic regime.
Talabani made the remarks in a joint news conference with Iran’s former president and current Expediency Council head Ali Akbar Hashemi who arrived here earlier in the day for a visit.
Speaking to the reporters, Talabani accused the MKO, also known as the PMOI (People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran) of supporting former Saddam Hussein regime and committing crimes against Iraqis.
"We here in Iraq, our constitution prohibit the presence of any foreign armed group in Iraq and the Iraqi people know that this organization is terrorist one," said the Iraqi president, adding "the Iraqi people want them out from Iraq."
MKO, a main militant group which was founded in 1981 with an aim to establish "a democratic and secular government" in Iran, bases in Iraq’s Diyala province in a camp named Camp Ashraf, which contains more than 3,000 Iranians opponents and their families.
The Shiite-dominated Iraqi government repeatedly demands MKO members to be removed from the country.
After the U.S.-led invasion, the U.S. troops disarmed the MKO fighters and since then, the camp became under the U.S. military police protection for five years before the Iraqi government partially took over security responsibility in the camp.
This is Rafsanjani’s first visit to Iraq since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979.
Talabani met with the former Iranian president in his residence at the edge of the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad that houses the Iraqi government offices and some foreign embassies, including the U.S. one.
Rafsanjani is also expected to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other top Iraqi officials before touring holy cities in Iraq.
At the news conference, Rafsanjani said that his country "is entirely ready to support and cooperate with the Iraqi brotherly people."
Iraq and Iran fought a bloody eight-year war in 1980s, resulting in the loss of one million lives. The relation, however, has been picking up since the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled in2003 and the Shiite came into power.
Editor: Mu Xuequan