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U.S. to classify Colombian group as 'terrorist'

By Andrea Koppel
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A senior U.S. State Department official told CNN that the right-wing Colombian paramilitary group known as the AUC (United Self-defense Groups of Colombia), will be classified as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) on Monday.

An FTO designation precludes the AUC from fund-raising in the United States and forbids its members privileges like travel to the United States, among other restrictions.

The AUC, like the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) paramilitary groups, is individually fighting the Colombian government in a decades-long civil war.

According to a travel warning issued in April, the Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Colombia. FARC and ELN were both designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the secretary of state in October 1997.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is traveling Monday to Lima, Peru, to attend a Special General Assembly of the Organization of American States. It is Powell's first visit to Latin America since he became secretary of state.

Powell is expected to stop Tuesday in Bogota, Colombia, for a two-day visit. Powell will meet with Colombian President Andres Pastrana, who has devoted his tenure to trying to end Colombia's civil war. Pastrana's term in office ends next summer.







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