United Nations: 15 minutes ago
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UN envoy has endorsed Iraq's request to lower its war reparation
payments to Kuwait but said any reduction would need the blessing of
both Baghdad and the Kuwaiti authorities.
After the 1991 Gulf war, the UN Security Council ordered Iraq to
compensate countries that suffered as a result of its 1990-1991
occupation of neighboring Kuwait. Baghdad now must set aside five per
cent of its oil revenues for reparation payments, most of which go to
Iraq wants the council to cancel Iraq's obligation to pay
reparations to Kuwait. It has asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to
support its request to slash or even cancel the payments so the money
can be used for investments inside Iraq.
British UN Ambassador John Sawers told Reuters in an interview he
hoped all outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait -- including
missing Kuwaiti citizens and archives, access to the sea and other
issues -- will be resolved.
"We would like to be able to move forward so that ... all these
issues can be agreed within the context of the existing border and
within the context of a reduction of compensation payments by Iraq to
Kuwait," he said.
"But that requires a degree of understanding between Baghdad and
Kuwait, which is what we (the Security Council) are trying to build,"
said Sawers, who is the council president for the month of August.
In a report to the 15-nation Security Council last week, Ban
mentioned Iraq's bilateral discussions with Kuwait on reparations,
including Baghdad's idea of "converting the outstanding payments into
Opposition from Kuwait
Ban said he would "strongly encourage Iraq and other stakeholders"
to come up with alternative solutions to Baghdad's reparation payments.
While he did not explicitly back a reduction in the payments to
Kuwait, Ban said any new solution should "help Iraq meet its
reconstruction needs and be beneficial to the region as a whole."
Iraq says the reparations are an unfair burden and wants the per
centage reduced so it has more money for reconstruction and development
projects. At a Security Council meeting on Iraq on Tuesday, Baghdad
again called for annulling decisions requiring reparations under
Chapter 7 of the UN charter.
"My country hopes that the Security Council will undertake its duty
and enable Iraq to restore its international standing to that which it
held prior to the adoption of Security Council resolutions, starting
with resolution 661 of 1990," Iraq's UN envoy Hamid al-Bayati told the
Kuwait opposes ending Iraq's Chapter 7 status and has so far successfully lobbied the Security Council to support it.
But council diplomats say they may vote to lift the restrictions at
the end of this year, which would enable Iraq to renegotiate the amount
of reparations it pays to Kuwait.
Iraq has said it still owes $25.5 billion in reparations, $24 billion to Kuwait alone.
Relations between Iraq and Kuwait have become tense recently, with
politicians in both countries trading accusations over the reparations.
Ban's report stopped short of declaring that Iraq no longer posed
any threat to international peace and security, which was the official
justification for the sanctions imposed on Iraq when the late Saddam
Hussein was in power.
But Ban said Iraq in 2009 is not the same country it was before the
US-led invasion in March 2003 that toppled Saddam's government. Sawers
made clear Britain believed Iraq no longer represented a threat to
global peace and security. – Reuters