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Tuesday, September 11, 2001, updated at 15:20(GMT+8)
World  

Colombia Lauds US Classification of Paramilitary Forces as Terrorist Group

The Colombian government welcomed the US decision to label Colombia's right-wing paramilitary group, the United Self Defenses of Colombia (AUC), as a "foreign terrorist organization."

Interior Minister Amando Estrada said Monday that the US decision is accurate and it would have a positive effect on Colombia's situation and peace process in the future.

Reports from Washington said the US State Department announced the decision on Monday before State Secretary Collin Powell's two-day visit to Colombia.

Powell said the US State Department based its decision on the fact that the AUC conducted in the last two years "numerous acts of terrorism, " such as massacres of civilians, kidnappings and the forced displacement of peasants from their villages.

He said that to classify AUC as a "foreign terrorist organization" is to make it clear that the US considers terrorism as unacceptable "regardless of its political or ideological purpose."

The inclusion of the paramilitary group, which combats left- wing guerrillas, in the list of terrorist organizations subjects it to sanctions by the US State Department, including freezing AUC assets in the US banks or denying visas to members of the paramilitary group.

The ACU shares the list with Colombia's guerrillas, Spain's Basque separatist organization ETA £¨ and the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Powell is to arrive in Colombia on Tuesday for a two-day visit after his participation in the Organization of American States (OAS) special General Assembly, set to open on Monday in Lima£¨capital of Peru.

Powell is expected to talk with Colombian President Andres Pastrana on anti-narcotics efforts and the peace process in the South American country.







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The Colombian government welcomed the US decision to label Colombia's right-wing paramilitary group, the United Self Defenses of Colombia (AUC), as a "foreign terrorist organization."

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