Kuwait's defense minister withdrew his resignation Monday, one day after he submitted it following a dispute with the foreign minister over a controversial child custody case, government sources said.
"Sheikh Salem al-Sabah was asked by the emir and crown prince to withdraw his resignation Monday morning, and he did," the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
He tendered his resignation Sunday after a dispute with Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah over Sheikh Salem's role in the repatriation of an Italian woman and her two half-Egyptian daughters.
He told Al-Qabas newspaper he had offered to resign "to preserve the unity of the government," adding it was "related to government functioning." He did not elaborate.
Sheikh Sabah, a veteran diplomat and key decision-maker, is said to have expressed resentment that Stefania Atzori and her two daughters left Kuwait without the knowledge of the foreign ministry.
Atzori and the two girls -- Dalia, 13, and Sarah, eight -- left for Italy on Wednesday after a Kuwaiti court granted them their right to repatriation on medical grounds.
The two girls had been the subject of a bitter seven-month custody battle in Kuwait between Atzori, 33, and her Egyptian ex-husband Hisham Abu al-Naja, who in June won a final court verdict granting him custody of the girls.
The Italian embassy on Sunday praised Kuwaiti authorities for facilitating the repatriation of the mother and two girls, which it said reflected "the excellent state of relations between Kuwait and Italy."
Political observers in Kuwait believe the incident has highlighted a deep rift between the two leading figures of the oil-rich emirate's ruling elite.
Sheikh Sabah was irked by Sheikh Salem's recent conditional offer to visit Iraq over some 600 prisoners of war missing from the 1991 Gulf War, saying the initiative was contradictory to Kuwait's official position toward Baghdad - KUWAIT CITY (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )