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Ban calls on Iraq and Kuwait to take 'innovative' steps to resolve key issues

30 July 2009 – Iraq has a number of outstanding issues to tackle before it can regain its rightful place in the community of nations, including those relating to its 1990 invasion of neighbouring Kuwait, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, calling on the two nations to take innovative steps to resolve key issues.

In a new report to the Security Council, Mr. Ban outlines actions necessary for Iraq to achieve global standing equal to that which it held prior to the imposition of various United Nations resolutions, beginning in 1990.

He notes that Iraq is gradually emerging from a period including two major wars, and he understands the desire of Iraq’s people for their country to regain its place in the international community.

Regarding relations between Iraq and Kuwait, the Secretary-General says he is pleased to note that both Governments have been making progress toward the resolution of some key issues, despite the painful legacy of the past.

“Indeed, it is the responsibility of both countries to work together as neighbours to expeditiously resolve the remaining issues between them,” he writes.

“For the aim is not just to achieve a closure and deal with deep wounds, but to create a solid basis for future generations of the region, a region that has been blessed with vast resources, much of which have been squandered in futile wars. A high degree of political will on both sides is still required to achieve this,” he adds.

Among the remaining issues for the two countries is compensation to be paid by Iraq for loss, damage or injury to foreign governments, nationals and corporations as a result of its invasion and occupation of Kuwait.

The claims are handled by the Geneva-based UN Compensation Commission, which to date has made available nearly $28 billion. The level of payments by Iraq to the Compensation Fund was determined at 30 per cent of all export sales of petroleum and petroleum products. It was later reduced to 25 per cent, and subsequently to 5 per cent, at which it currently stands.

Mr. Ban says he has noted Iraq’s request for the payment percentage to be lowered, if not eliminated altogether. “In that regard, I strongly encourage Iraq and other stakeholders to actively discuss alternative solutions to the issue of outstanding compensation and debt payments.”

Another issue is the repatriation or return by Iraq of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains, as well as the return of all Kuwaiti property, including archives, seized by Iraq.

The Secretary-General recognized the efforts made after 2003 which resulted in the recovery and identification of 236 individuals and the return of some Kuwaiti property. He also recognized that it possible that not all remains and properties will be found and that the search will eventually have to come to an end. Nonetheless, he encouraged Iraq to achieve further progress on the ground.

“The two States should consider innovative steps for resolving the outstanding issues between them in a spirit of generous compromise and understanding for each other’s concerns,” Mr. Ban states. “By doing so, they will mark the dawn of a new era in their relationship.”

At the same time, he notes that the outstanding issues for Iraq are not limited to those related to Kuwait, and include, among others, Iraq’s obligations in the area of disarmament, as set out by numerous Security Council resolutions from 1990 onward.

“Iraq continues to bear the primary responsibility for the implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions,” he says. “However, the Security Council should also take into account the efforts and progress made by the Government of Iraq since 2003 in creating a stable nation, at peace with itself and its neighbours.

“It is important to recognize that the Iraq of today is very different from Iraq prior to 2003. It is my hope that the Security Council will consider this report with a view to taking appropriate decisions that would help Iraq to fulfil its outstanding obligations in a timely manner.”

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