Iraq said Friday it was ready to brief the families of Kuwaitis missing since the 1991 Gulf War on Baghdad's investigation into their disappearance, but ruled out the presence of any US or British observers.
"Iraq is ready to meet the families of those Kuwaitis who disappeared, in the presence of representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)," an Iraqi foreign ministry official told the INA news agency.
Iraq will "tell them the truth and explain how the investigation into the fate of missing Kuwaitis, as well as Iraqis, is being undertaken," he said.
But "Iraq refuses to hold such meetings in the presence of such aggressive countries as the United States and Britain, because their presence can only block the search into what happened to these missing," the official added.
"Besides, there are no missing Americans and British. Why then must their representatives sit in on meetings that do not concern them?" he asked.
The official was reacting to comments made by Kuwait's Defense Minister Sheikh Salem al-Sabah Tuesday that the emirate was ready to meet face-to-face with Iraq to discuss the issue of POWs but only on the condition Baghdad admits that it has at least 10 percent of the 600 prisoners Kuwait says are in Iraq.
According to the Iraqi official, "to pose such conditions is only an attempt to fool Kuwaiti public opinion, and in particular that of the families of those missing."
"Sheikh Salem's comments confirm the allegiance of Kuwait's leaders to their US and British masters," he said.
Kuwait maintains that more than 600 of its own and other countries' nationals disappeared during the Iraqi occupation from August 1990 to February 1991, and claims the missing are still being held in Iraq.
Iraq said there had been prisoners, but that it lost track of them during an uprising by Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq following the country's retreat from Kuwait.
Baghdad also claims that some 1,037 of its own people have disappeared or are being held in Kuwait. Anzi said Iraq submitted files only on 68 of those missing – BAGHDAD (AFP)
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