U.N. preparing Iraq-Kuwait reconciliation plan
The United Nations is outlining a plan to help Iraq end its dispute with neighboring Kuwait over war reparations, 19 years after Baghdad invaded the oil-producing Gulf state, a U.N. official said on Monday, Reuters reported.
Baghdad wants the U.N. Security Council to reduce its reparation payments to Kuwait, which it ordered Iraq to pay after the 1991 Gulf war ended Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's 1990-1991 occupation of Kuwait.
Iraq says the reparations -- more than $20 billion -- are unfair and wants the amount reduced so it has more money for reconstruction and development. It has called for annulling Security Council decisions requiring the payments under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter.
U.N. special envoy to Iraq Ad Melkert told a meeting of the 15-nation council on Iraq that a top priority was the "normalization of (Iraq's) regional relations, not least with Kuwait, and the related exit from Chapter 7 provisions."
Melkert said the U.N. mission in Iraq would outline a plan for achieving this.
"We will seek consent of both parties to define a mutually agreed agenda, the completion of which should resolve any remaining issues and should normalize Iraq's position within the U.N.," he said.
Kuwait opposes ending Iraq's Chapter 7 status. But council diplomats say they might vote to lift the restrictions in the coming months, paving the way for Iraq to renegotiate the amount of reparations it pays to Kuwait.
Melkert told reporters that the proposal would cover an array of disputes between Kuwait and Iraq.
In addition to reparations, there is the issue of agreeing on the precise land and sea borders between Iraq and Kuwait, he said. Kuwait also demands information related to its missing citizens and the return of property the Kuwaiti government says was stolen during the occupation.
At the end of July Iraq owed some $25.5 billion in reparations, $24 billion to Kuwait alone.
Melkert did not comment on a visit to Iraq this month by U.N. assistant secretary-general Oscar Fernandez-Taranco in response to Baghdad's request for a U.N. inquiry into support given by foreign countries to insurgents.
Iraq's U.N. ambassador, Hamid al-Bayati, said his government considered Fernandez-Taranco's visit as a "first step to be followed by subsequent steps ... to uncover those behind the deadly bombings in Baghdad in August and October."
Twin suicide blasts against government buildings in Baghdad last month killed more than 150 people, and bombings in August devastated the Foreign and Finance ministries.
Iraq blames both attacks on al Qaeda and supporters of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party.
Baghdad has accused neighboring Syria of providing a safe haven for Baathists plotting attacks. The United States has previously accused Iran of interfering in Iraq and providing support to insurgents. Both governments deny the allegations.