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EU to Ask US to Lift 'Terrorist' Label on Iranian Exile Group

The European Union's parliament is stepping up efforts to persuade the U.S. to remove the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran from its list of terrorist organizations.

The parliament passed a written declaration Thursday that calls on EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to lobby U.S. President Barack Obama's administration to drop the designation.

The Iranian opposition group has been on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations since 1997.

The EU removed the group from its terrorist list last year, and members of the European Parliament later wrote an open letter to President Obama saying they found that the People's Mujahedeen Organization of Iran was a "friend of the West and an enemy of religious fundamentalism."

This week's EU parliament declaration also urges the United Nations to provide protection for People's Mujahedeen members and their families who have been living in an exile camp in Iraq. U.S. troops had been based near the exiles' Camp Ashraf, north of Baghdad, but the Americans left as part of the draw-down of forces in Iraq, and the exiles contend they have been mistreated since then by Iraqi troops surrounding their camp.

Iraq gave the People's Mujahideen shelter after the Iranian revolution in 1979, but has since accused some members of the group of helping former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein crush a Shi'ite revolt about 20 years ago.

The EU document says Camp Ashraf residents are being "subjected to external pressures" under the pretext that the People's Mujahedeen remains on the U.S. blacklist.

In addition to the U.S., Iran and Iraq consider the People's Mujahedeen a terrorist organization.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.