Kurdish separatist rebels in Turkey and Iraq-based guerrillas fighting the Iranian government have been added to the European Union's list of banned terrorist groups, EU diplomats said today.
An EU statement confirmed that the list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts whose assets are to be frozen under United Nations rules had been extended, but it did not specifically identify the movements added.
The diplomats said the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the military wing of the Iranian Mujahideen Khalq Organisation (MKO) were on the new EU list. One diplomat said the list would be published tomorrow.
The delay in publishing the new list was meant to prevent organisations added to the blacklist from moving their assets before they could be frozen.
The EU move was a significant gesture towards NATO ally Turkey, a candidate for EU membership, and Iran's Islamic Republic, with which Brussels is developing closer ties.
However, diplomats said the terrorist designation would not cover the National Council of Resistance of Iran, considered the MKO's political arm and is headed by the wife of MKO leader Ms Masoud Rajavi, with headquarters near Paris and offices across Europe.
Leaders of the PKK, which was omitted from the first EU list drafted last December, have warned the Europeans against the move, saying it could spark outrage among the many Kurdish immigrants living in the 15-nation bloc.
The PKK decided this month to change its name to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress, according to the Mezopotamya News Agency, close to the movement. Turkey says it continues to regard the group as terrorist .