Kuwait hopes for no delay in 16-billion-dollar compensation claim
Kuwait said Tuesday it hoped there would be no further delay in a $16-billion oil compensation claim for the 1990-1991 Iraqi occupation despite reservations within the UN Security Council.
"We hope the issue will pass through either by voting or consensus," Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah told Al-Rai Al-Aam newspaper. "I believe there will be no delay."
Kuwait's claim for compensation for losses and damage to its oil sector has been put off twice already, and the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) has cut the emirate's original $21-billion demand to $15.9 billion.
The UNCC was due to start a three-day meeting in Geneva on Tuesday to evaluate the claim, the biggest of a total of $168 billion for damage during Iraq's seven-month occupation of Kuwait. Security Council permanent members Russia, China and France have all expressed reservations about the claim and asked for more time to study it.
UNCC approvals have so far been taken by consensus, although a nine-member majority is needed to approve resolutions. Sheikh Sabah said Friday the emirate had rallied enough votes to approve the $15.9-billion claim.
The UNCC, which has the same 15 member states as the Security Council, has so far approved compensation of 8.2 billion dollars to Kuwait, but has paid out only $2.3 billion.
Kuwait has launched an intensive diplomatic campaign to convince Security Council members of the validity of the claim, with senior ministers visiting France and Russia.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sulaiman Majed al-Shaheen has also held a series of talks with ambassadors of the five major powers in the Security Council, including Britain and the United States.
But sources said that there has been little change in the positions of France, China and Russia.
A Western diplomat told AFP the three countries were not opposed to the principle of compensation nor to the amount, but wanted the delay for technical as well as political reasons.
"We need enough time to study huge claims like this. Achieving consensus is very important and necessary. All previous decisions have been taken by consensus. The Iraqis could take advantage of any divisions," he said.
The UNCC fund is financed by 30 percent of Iraq's oil export revenues under a UN mechanism. The rest of
the revenue goes towards buying food, medicine and essential goods for Iraq, which has been under sanctions since the invasion.
France, supported by China and Russia, asked the UN Security Council on September 21 to reduce the amount deducted for the compensation fund to 20 percent. – (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)