UN Urges Iraq to Return Kuwaiti Property, Account for Missing
The Security Council urged Iraq Monday to return property seized from Kuwait after its 1990 invasion and account for hundreds of missing people, adding its weight to a similar demand from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
According to the Associated Press, the council has issued a statement after a briefing by retired Russian ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, who was appointed by Annan in February to try to resolve the Kuwait-related issues left over from the 1991 Gulf War, stressing the importance of dialogue among parties.
AP added that a report last Thursday by Annan on missing Kuwaiti property called for "understanding and goodwill" from Iraq in returning government archives, museum pieces and military equipment.
The council said it agreed with Annan's conclusion "that understanding and goodwill are of critical importance for the success of Vorontsov's mission."
Iraq has withdrawn from an international committee set up to look into the issue of persons who have been missing since the Gulf war. The agency echoed Baghdad as claiming that the committee, which is scheduled to meet again in Geneva on June 21st, has not applied enough pressure on Kuwait.
Kuwait has repeatedly accused Iraq of continuing to hold 605 Kuwaitis and other nationals. Baghdad accuses Kuwait of failing to disclose information about 1,150 Iraqis who went missing during the Gulf War crisis. Both countries insist they are not holding any detainees.
AP added that the Security Council urged Iraq "to cooperate to ensure the repatriation or the return of all Kuwaiti and third country nations or their remains."
The council also echoed Annan's report last week that Iraq has returned "a substantial quantity of property" but it still has an obligation to return "many items, of fundamental importance for Kuwait"
The Associated Press said that Annan noted that in December 1998, his special envoy in Baghdad, Prakash Shah, was told by Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz that the property issue was not a major one and could be easily settled.
At a summit of developing nations in Havana, Cuba, in April, Annan said he urged Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf to cooperate on the return of Kuwaiti property and archives, and was told the issue should be addressed under the 1991 Security Council resolution that ended the Gulf War.
AP quoted the secretary-general as saying Vorontsov is prepared to go to Baghdad at the earliest opportunity to facilitate the return to Kuwait of several small items Iraq reported finding in local markets in 1997 and 1998, including a green leather bag, a revolver, a hunting rifle and several decorated dishes – Albawaba.com
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