Iran Ready to Offer Amnesty
for Low Ranking MKO Members: Talabani
25 November 2003
BAGHDAD (AFP) - The Iranian government is ready to offer an amnesty for low ranking members of the rebel Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization (MKO), the current head of Iraq's interim Governing Council said Monday.

Jalal Talabani said the leadership of the Mujahedeen, whom Saddam Hussein had allowed to have bases in Iraq from which to launch attacks against Iran, had committed a "deadly mistake by tying their fate" to the toppled Iraqi president.

"But the masses of the organization deserve sympathy on humanitarian grounds; I have asked the Iranian brothers to offer a general amnesty and they said they are ready to grant one for those who return" to Iran, Talabani told a press conference.

The rebel group was briefly bombed by the U.S.-led coalition during its spring invasion, before a ceasefire was struck with U.S. commanders.

The group was later disarmed and confined to camp in its bases close to the Iranian border in the northeastern province of Diyala.

U.S. press reports have spoken of anger at the U.S. State Department that attacks by the group, listed by Washington as a "terrorist organization", have continued despite the measures, but U.S. commanders here have vigorously denied that its fighters are in any position to launch any more attacks against Iran from Iraqi territory.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami last week expressly recognized the Governing Council, after meeting in Tehran with Talabani, an Iraqi Kurdish leader who currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the council, appointed in July by the U.S.-led coalition that in April ended Saddam's 24-year rule.

Iran has several times expressed its willingness to pardon members of the People's Mujahadeen who repent, but the group has dismissed the offer as a trick.