U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "encouraged and hopeful" that Iraq will return most of Kuwait's looted national archives.
In early May, Annan said he had been told by Arab League leader Amr Moussa that Iraq wanted to return nearly 90 percent of the archives taken after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Diplomatic sources said Iraq was prepared to return about two tons of material.
Kuwait has been maintaining that during the seven-month occupation, Iraq took archives from the foreign ministry, the prime minister's office and other government departments, as well as military hardware and valuable museum pieces.
In a report Monday to the U.N. Security Council, Annan said he had received letters from Iraq and Kuwait agreeing to his proposal on how the archives should be returned.
"I am encouraged and hopeful that the responses of Kuwait and Iraq ... represent an auspicious beginning to a process that could lead to the full resolution of this issue," Annan said. "After many years of dashed hopes, it appears that some substantive progress regarding the return of Kuwaiti property can be made," he said.
Annan said Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri informed him in a letter this month that Iraq was prepared to return documents and property through "a mechanism" that would include the Arab League and the U.N. observer mission on the Iraq-Kuwait border.
According to AP, Annan said he planned to address the issue further during a meeting with Sabri in Vienna early next month. He said he also got a letter from Kuwait's foreign minister, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, agreeing to his proposal for the return but demanding that Iraq return all property and fully implement relevant Security Council resolutions.
"I strongly urge the government of Iraq to make further efforts regarding the whereabouts of all remaining Kuwaiti property in its possession, in particular the remaining elements of the national archives of Kuwait," Annan said. (Albawaba.com)
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