Iraq and Kuwait seek to improve relations

BAGHDAD — Iraq and Kuwait pledged Wednesday to work toward resolving border disputes and debt issues as the two former enemies seek to repair relations damaged by Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of the oil-rich emirate.

By (AP)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Wed 26 Jan 2011, 7:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 9:05 AM

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and the Kuwaiti ambassador made the remarks at a flag-raising ceremony at the new Kuwaiti Embassy in Baghdad — the latest in a series of gestures between the former enemies as they struggle to repair relations after decades of bad blood.

“A strong political will is needed to solve these issues,” Zebari told reporters as Kuwaiti security guards hoisted the black, white, green and red Kuwaiti flag up a pole outside the embassy building, which is still under construction. “We are confident and optimistic that all these topics can be resolved.”

Asked whether such a political will exists in Kuwait, Ambassador Ali Mohammed al-Moumin said: “In short, the answer is yes. But we need more meetings and discussions.”

Neither Zebari nor al-Moumin would give a timeline or discuss the mechanism to solve the pending issues.

Iraq’s mainly Sunni neighbors have sought since late 2007 to restore ties damaged by Saddam’s rule and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as the security situation in Iraq has improved.

Washington also has pressed for Arab countries to play a bigger political role in Iraq, partly to counter Iranian influence and to promote reconciliation between Iraq’s minority Sunni community and majority Shiites.

Kuwait sent its ambassador to Baghdad in late 2008, but the embassy staff has been housed in temporary quarters in the heavily guarded Green Zone.

Kuwait’s prime minister also visited Baghdad earlier this month in the first visit by a Kuwaiti prime minister since the 1991 Gulf War, which ousted Saddam’s forces.

And a consortium led state-run by Kuwait Energy won the right to develop the 1.1 trillion cubic feet Siba gas field during a bidding round in December.

Iraq has seen a steady stream of visitors from the region ever since Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Cabinet was formed in December after months of negotiations, including delegations from Egypt, Jordan and Iran.

But relations between Kuwait and Iraq are still tense.

The U.N. decided Iraq should pay more than $52 billion in compensation for individuals, companies and organizations that incurred losses in the Gulf War. Iraq has paid $28 billion from oil revenues, but still owes Kuwait about $24 billion.

Kuwait’s national airline, Kuwait Airways, also wants about $1.5 billion in reparations from Iraqi Airways for the alleged theft of 10 airplanes and millions of dollars worth of spare parts during the invasion.

Iraq is seeking cancellation of the debt, but Kuwait has resisted pressure from Baghdad and Washington.

Iraqi fishermen also killed a Kuwaiti coast guard officer during a shootout earlier this month in one of the more serious incidents between the two countries in years. Kuwait briefly detained some Iraqi fishermen.

Iraqi fishermen complain of harassment by Kuwaitis who maintain that the fishermen do not respect their boundaries.

More news from