Iraq meets Kuwait over Gulf War missing, Iran visit delayed

08 January 2003
Iraq stepped up its efforts to improve neighbourly relations in the face of the US threat of war on 8 January, meeting Kuwait to discuss those still missing since the 1991 Gulf War. Officials are to hold talks in Amman, chaired by the Red Cross, as was agreed in December. Kuwait says that 600 of its citizens remain unaccounted for, while Iraq puts its missing at more than 1,000. Previous efforts by an international commission to resolve the issue were scuppered by Baghdad in 1998, when it withdrew from talks claiming not enough attention was being paid to the Iraqi losses. In a further signal of willingness to co-operate with international institutions, the UN official in charge of accounting for the goods and people missing since the Gulf War has been invited to Baghdad by the Iraqi authorities, in what will be his first visit since his appointment three years ago.

While relations with Kuwait may be gradually thawing, attempts to effect reconciliation with Iran have struck an obstacle. The proposed visit to Tehran of Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri has been postponed by President Khatami, the local Tehran Times reported on 8 January, and conditions set for its rescheduling. The conditions had apparently been laid down during a previous visit by Sabri, but no progress been made towards their being met. Khatami's stipulations include: compliance with the terms of the 1975 Algiers Treaty; commitment to UN Resolution 598 and the payment of war reparations; an apology for the war against Iran; and the release of all Iranian prisoners taken during the conflict.

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