Iraq And Saudis to Meet Ahead of Search for Pilot's Remains
Delegations from Saudi Arabia and Iraq will begin a meeting Thursday in preparation for a search in southern Iraq for the remains of a Saudi pilot whose plane was downed in the 1991 Gulf War, the Red Cross said Tuesday.
The meeting would probably last several days and take place in the Saudi border town of Ar'ar, said Beat Schweizer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Iraq.
However, Mahmud Ayub, director of Iraq's department for the missing at the foreign ministry, told a weekly newspaper the search could start as soon as Saturday.
Saudi Arabia and Iraq finally agreed to the operation in June but it has been held up because of extreme summer temperatures in the desert where Squadron Leader Mohammad Nadera's plane was shot down.
The crash site is 100 kilometers (60 miles) from the nearest inhabited area and accessible only by land from the Saudi side of the border because the Iraqi side is heavily mined, according to Iraqi sources.
The launch of the retrieval operation has dragged pending agreement on the arrangements ever since Baghdad announced in January that the plane wreckage was found in 1997, six years after the war over Kuwait.
An Iraqi officer had buried the pilot, Iraq said -- BAGHDAD (AFP)
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