UN Secretary General Kofi Annan today urged Iraq to cooperate with the UN official responsible for dealing with the fate of Kuwaiti citizens and nationals missing since the Gulf War as well as Kuwaiti property seized by Iraq.
In a report to the United Nations Security Council, Annan said the Iraqi government's continued refusal to deal with Yuli Vorontsov, the high-level coordinator overseeing resolution of this issue, is of "serious concern" to him.
"Regrettably, the Iraqi authorities continue to refuse cooperation with the coordinator, and his sincere and purely humanitarian endeavors have not been reciprocated," the report said.
Kuwait said 600 of its citizens and nationals of other countries disappeared during the Iraqi occupation from August 1990 through February 1991. Iraq acknowledged that it held prisoners from this period but said it has lost track of their whereabouts.
Iraq further claimed that some 1,037 of its own citizens have disappeared or are being held in Kuwait.
"As the government of Iraq claims to seek a resolution to the issue of its own missing nationals, it is essential that it exercise an appropriate and sensitive understanding of the position held by the government of Kuwait and other countries concerned," the report stated.
"The display of goodwill in these humanitarian matters would be of utmost importance with regard to possible progress on other issues concerning Iraq."
Iraq continues to block a UN arms inspection team from searching its weapons facilities, despite a 1999 UN offer to end sanctions if the country permits the resumption of inspections.
Following a briefing today on Annan's report, the Security Council expressed "unanimous support" for the work of Ambassador Vorontsov and expressed "deep concern" at the plight of the missing and their families.
The council further called for the return of Kuwait's national archives to Kuwait and urged Iraq to "fully cooperate" with Vorontsov's efforts -- UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
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