Kuwait Urges For International Help in Freeing Citizen Arrested by Iraq
Kuwait called upon the international community Sunday to press Baghdad to release one of its nationals detained when a diplomatic mission strayed across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) into Iraq.
"The cabinet calls on the international community to pressure the Iraqi regime to free Kuwaiti Jassem al-Randi immediately and to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to account for all Kuwaiti POWs," the cabinet said in a statement released after its weekly session, according to AFP.
Kuwait maintains that more than 600 of its and other countries' nationals disappeared during the Iraqi occupation of the Emirate in 1990-1991, and claims the missing are still being held in Iraq.
Baghdad has admitted taking prisoners, however said it lost track of them during a Shiite Muslim uprising in southern Iraq that followed its retreat from Kuwait in 1991. Iraq also claims some 1,140 of its nationals are still missing since the conflict.
Randi, a municipal employee, was accompanying a visiting Venezuelan delegation when their convoy, led by the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM), traveled too far across the DMZ on March 15 before being stopped by Iraqi border police.
While the Venezuelan members were only briefly arrested, Randi was taken to Baghdad, along with Egyptian Abdul Aziz Ahmad, who has since been released.
The Kuwaiti cabinet restated that Randi crossed into Iraq's side of the DMZ "by mistake" and slammed Baghdad's "aggressive intentions."
"(Iraq's) bargaining ... with this humanitarian issue confirms the continuous provocative and aggressive policy of this regime, which still poses a real threat to the security and stability of Kuwait and the Gulf region in general," the statement said.
On Wednesday, Iraq's foreign ministry said Randi would "not be freed unless Kuwait frees and returns all Iraqi citizens detained for entering by error" into the emirate.
Kuwaiti State Minister for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Sabah slammed the comments the following day, saying that Kuwait was not detaining any Iraqis "for entering by mistake."
"This is a frivolous accusation, an outrageous lie," he said.
UNIKOM monitors the DMZ set up along the border after the 1991 Gulf War in which a US-led coalition evicted Iraqi troops from Kuwait.
The DMZ extends 10 kilometers into Iraq and five kilometers into Kuwait. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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