Gulf Leaders Urge Saddam to Prove ‘Peaceful Intentions’
Arab leaders closed the 21st summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Bahrain Sunday with a call for Iraq to prove its peaceful intentions towards the six GCC member states.
In their closing statement, the rulers invited the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to "prove its peaceful intentions towards its neighbors," especially Kuwait, which Baghdad occupied from August 1990 to February 1991.
Entitled "The case of Iraq and the consequences of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait," the final declaration called for a "comprehensive dialogue" between Iraq and the United Nations to examine all pending issues "with a view to a lifting of sanctions" imposed on Iraq a decade ago.
The text also urged Baghdad to "respect the sovereignty and independence of Kuwait" and to apply UN Security Council resolutions, notably concerning arms control and "Kuwaiti citizens and nationals of other countries who are either prisoners-of-war or disappeared" during the Iraqi occupation.
Kuwait said 600 of its citizens and nationals of other countries disappeared during the seven-month-long Iraqi occupation. Iraq acknowledged that it held prisoners from this period but said it has lost track of their whereabouts.
Iraq continues to block a UN arms inspection team from searching weapons facilities, despite a 1999 UN offer to end sanctions if the country permits the resumption of inspections.
And Baghdad regularly denounces Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for serving as a base for US and British warplanes that enforce a no-fly zone on southern Iraq.
The GCC leaders also expressed readiness to take part in any humanitarian initiative aimed at easing the "suffering of the brotherly Iraqi people" and to "work for the end of these sufferings in the framework of the UN resolutions."
They added the "need to respect Iraq's independence and its territorial integrity" and "their opposition to any interference in its internal matters" -- MANAMA (AFP)
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