The European Union is to keep a leading Iranian opposition group on its list of prescribed terrorist organisations.
Diplomats from the member states agreed to maintain the People's Mujahideen Organisation of Iran on its terror list following a request from the French presidency of the EU.
The decision was rubberstamped late Tuesday evening by agriculture ministers meeting in Brussels and comes ahead of fresh international talks with Tehran over its nuclear energy programme.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is to meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in Geneva on Saturday.
"The Council has decided to maintain those persons, groups and entities on the list," the EU said in its Official Journal.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran, an alliance of opponents of the Islamic government whose leading member is the PMOI, also known as the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), has been lobbying strongly to be removed from the list, claiming it has long since ceased any violent activities and is now committed to peaceful change.
"The Iranian resistance views the futile attempt by the agriculture ministers to appease the religious fascists ruling Iran and defying the ruling of EU courts is devoid of any legal standing and a clear violation of the rule of law," Shahin Gobadi, a spokesperson for the NCRI in Brussels, said in response to the decision.
At the end of June, the UK parliament approved an order to remove the PMOI from the country's own terror list following a High Court ruling that the listing was not legitimate.
The Council of Ministers decision came on the same day that a declaration signed by 290 French parliamentary deputies calling for democratic change in Iran was presented to the NCRI's leader, Maryam Rajavi.
The deputies also called for France to push for the group to be dropped from the EU terror list before the end of the French presidency of the EU.
The group, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the PMOI conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and Western targets. However, the new government turned on the group and arrested and killed thousands of its members. The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by the late Saddam Hussein.
Since the Iraq war, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who also argue for the PMOI to be taken off the US terror list.
A May 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused the PMOI of running prison camps in Iraq and committing human rights violations.