US remove PUK, KDP from terrorist list
The two Kurdish parties in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Union (KDP) led by Massoud Barzani, have been removed from the United States terrorist list, media reported on Saturday.
According to a senior US official, US Congress has passed a law that will pave the way for Washington to remove the parties from the terrorist list.
Brett McGurk, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Syria, also confirmed that the two Kurdish parties have been removed from the list via his twitter account.
"Congress has passed the NDAA [The National Defense Authorization Act] w/a provision removing PUK & KDP from the list of designated organizations under U.S. immigration laws", read the tweet that McGurk shared on Saturday.
"This unfair designation complicated visa processing for many Kurds wishing to visit the US. We are pleased to see it fixed", added the senior US official.
In February the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, refused to meet the US president, Barack Obama, until the US removed the Kurdistan region's two main political parties from its terrorist blacklist.
The KDP and PUK have been on the US blacklist since 2001, under the existing Patriot Act as a Tier III terrorist group. Members of the KDP and the PUK were classified as terrorists and thus prohibited from obtaining visas to enter the United States.
In April, two prominent U.S. Senators, Robert Menendez and John McCain, introduced a bill to remove the Kurdish political parties from the US terror list.
The bill is expected to be approved by the US President Barack Obama. The Obama administration had also previously supported the bill.
The Kurdish officials expressed their happy feelings over the removal decision. Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to the Kurdistan Region presidency confirmed that the two parties have been removed from US terrorist list.