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"It is past time for the M.E.K. to recognize that Ashraf is not going to remain an M.E.K. base," the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism said, speaking in a telephone briefing for reporters along with Daniel Fried, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's special adviser on Camp Ashraf.

nytimes
Daniel Benjamin, the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, suggested that the group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or People's Mujahedeen, known as the M.E.K., could remain on the department's list of terrorist organizations if it does not completely vacate Camp Ashraf, its location since 1986.

 

"It is past time for the M.E.K. to recognize that Ashraf is not going to remain an M.E.K. base," Mr. Benjamin said, speaking in a telephone briefing for reporters along with Daniel Fried, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's special adviser on Camp Ashraf.

 

"This is the M.E.K.'s moment to show that it has taken on a fundamentally different character," Mr. Benjamin said. Under a court ruling, Mrs. Clinton must decide by October whether to drop or renew the terrorist designation for the group.

 

Almost 2,000 members of the group have moved in recent months to a new site near the Baghdad airport, but at least 1,200 remain at Ashraf, he said. The last convoy moved on May 5, but since then M.E.K. officials have delayed completing the relocation, complaining about poor conditions in the new location and other issues.

 

The Iraqi government has set July 20 as a deadline to close Camp Ashraf, which was given to the M.E.K. by Saddam Hussein. Iraqi officials now are deeply hostile to the group, and at least twice Iraqi security forces have clashed with M.E.K. members at Ashraf, resulting in several dozen deaths.

 

The United Nations, with American support, has negotiated the move from Ashraf as a preliminary step in relocating M.E.K. members to other countries. But the M.E.K. and its supporters outside Iraq have mounted a public relations campaign calling for Mrs. Clinton to drop the group's terrorist designation, saying it prevents countries from accepting members of the group.

 

An M.E.K. spokesman, Shahin Gobadi, said the relocation should have no relevance to Mrs. Clinton's decision on the terrorist designation. He said the group is prepared to complete the move if its "humanitarian" demands are met, but he called the July 20 deadline unreasonable.

 

The M.E.K. was accused of attacks that killed seven Americans and hundreds of Iranians in the 1970s. It supported the taking of American hostages after the Iranian revolution in 1979 but soon broke with Iran's clerical leadership and lost a violent power struggle.

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