Kuwait PM visits Iraq for first time since war

Kuwait`s PM arrived in Baghdad since Saddam Hussein`s forces invaded the oil-rich emirate in 1990.

Baghdad: Kuwait`s Prime Minister arrived
in Baghdad on Wednesday in the first such visit since Saddam
Hussein`s forces invaded the oil-rich emirate in 1990, Iraqi
officials and Kuwaiti state media said.

Iraq`s deputy foreign minister, Labid Abbawi, told a news agency that Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah
had arrived in the Iraqi capital, confirming a report by
Kuwait`s official KUNA news agency.

It is the first visit by a Kuwaiti premier to Iraq
since Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah Al-Sabah in 1989, and the first
since the late dictator Saddam ordered his forces to invade
Kuwait in August 1990.

The Iraqi forces were expelled from the neighbouring
emirate by an international coalition seven months later.

The visit was "to congratulate Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki on the new government, and to confirm the depth of
the relations between the two countries," Abbawi said.

"It will create a great opportunity to open the road
for discussions about outstanding issues between the two
countries," said the deputy Iraqi diplomatic chief.

"It is also a very important political message
confirming Iraq`s preparations to host the coming Arab
summit," which is planned for March, Abbawi added.

Maliki`s new government was approved by parliament on
December 21, after more than nine months of political gridlock
following an inconclusive election as political groups haggled
over the formation of a coalition.

The visit also comes two days after a clash between
Kuwaiti coast guards and Iraqi fishermen in which a Kuwaiti
was killed and an Iraqi fishing boat sunk.

Kuwait`s interior ministry said the skirmish occurred
when an Iraqi boat entered Kuwaiti waters and refused orders
from a coast guard patrol to stop.

Dabbagh said yesterday that "a private Iraqi boat was
fired upon by Kuwaiti coast guards, and sank. One of the
members of the Kuwaiti forces was killed, and the Kuwaitis
detained four Iraqis."

There are a number of outstanding issues between Iraq
and Kuwait relating to the 1990 Iraqi invasion and subsequent
occupation of Kuwait.

Iraq still pays five percent of revenues from its oil
sales into a reparations fund for Kuwait, which is demanding
that Baghdad pay another USD 22 billion. Kuwait has received
about USD 13 billion in reparations.

Kuwait also demands that Iraq return property stolen
during the occupation and explain the fate of hundreds of
missing Kuwaitis.

PTI

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