Kuwait Concerned over Iraq’s Free Trade Zone Deals with Arab States
By Eyad Khalifa
Albawaba.com – Amman
A senior Kuwaiti official has voiced his country’s concern over free trade zone agreements signed by Iraq with Egypt and Syria, but insisted that Kuwait would not interfere with any rapprochement between any Arab country and Iraq as long as this does not jeopardize its interests.
In a statement to Albawaba.com during his visit to Amman late last week, head of the foreign affairs parliamentary committee, Mohammad Jassem Saqer said that “every country has its own interests and Kuwait respects that,” adding that “there are fears that the Iraqi regime might misinterpret these deals. All we ask is that the improvement in the Arab-Iraqi relation does not come at our expense and that of our national issues.”
The MP, who was accompanied by a parliamentary delegation, was referring to the issue of 600 POWs Kuwait who it says are detained by Iraq and should be released.
Baghdad has denied that it holds any Kuwaiti nationals.
Amman was the final leg in a tour by the delegation that took them to Tunisia and Damascus. Saqer said that the two countries assured him that Kuwait would not be harmed by any deal with Iraq.
The Kuwaiti delegation’s visit to Amman came amid reports of an imminent free zone deal between Jordan and Iraq. Saqer said he hopes these deals are carried out under the UN sponsored oil-for-food program, which allows Iraq to sell part of its oil for essential commodities.
Kuwaiti MPs made visits to Cairo and Damascus simultaneous to those done by Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan who went to both countries to sign the FTZ agreements.
Saqer insisted that it was a mere coincidence. “The foreign affairs committee at the Kuwaiti parliament decided three months ago to make the visits to ease the pressure on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and enhance the diplomatic and parliamentarian ties with oir Arab brethren,” he said, adding that “the Iraqis have been back only a week ago.”