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UN: Annan Says No Credible Iraqi Explanation On Missing Kuwaiti Property

  • Robert McMahon

A report last week by the UN Secretary-General said Iraq has still failed to return a considerable amount of archives, military equipment and museum items to Kuwait that were seized during its invasion 10 years ago. The report cited a lack of a credible explanation from Iraq about the missing property and urges that priority be given to resolving the issue. UN correspondent Robert McMahon reports.

United Nations, 19 June 2000 (RFE/RL) -- Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report last week was the second he has issued since appointing Russian diplomat Yuli Vorontsov as coordinator of efforts to resolve the issue of missing Kuwaitis and missing Kuwaiti property.

In both reports, Annan says that goodwill is critical to help bring closure to two issues lingering since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait 10 years ago. But Iraq has so far not made direct contact with Vorontsov to discuss the issues. At issue, says the Secretary-General's office, are the fates of 600 Kuwaitis unaccounted for since 1990 as well as well as a large amount of archives and other Kuwaiti property.

On the property issue, Annan's report says Vorontsov has consulted with the Kuwaiti foreign and defense ministers, Security Council members and leaders of the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement.

The report says Vorontsov hopes to have meetings with members of the UN Compensation Commission on the issue of Kuwaiti property on his planned trip to Geneva in the near future.

In a separate development Thursday, the Geneva-based Compensation Commission delayed for two weeks a decision on whether to approve Kuwait's claim of more than $21 billions for oil destroyed by Iraq. The claim is the largest filed against Iraq at the commission and will be reconsidered on 30 June.

So far, the commission has paid out nearly $7 billions to individuals or other parties who have proved losses caused by Iraq's invasion.

As for missing property, Kuwait says Iraq seized large archives belonging to its foreign ministry. The Secretary-General's report says these archives includes files containing tens of thousands of communications, among them confidential and regular documents, including agreements between Kuwait and other countries. Kuwait says that during the occupation in 1990, the archives were loaded onto Iraqi army trucks and carried to Iraq.

Kuwait also provides a detailed description of military material, including eight Mirage fighter planes, more than 3,700 TOW anti-tank missiles, nearly 700 SAM surface-to-air missiles and hundreds of armored personnel carriers.

In addition, Kuwait says Iraq took valuable pieces from the Islamic and National Museums.

Annan's report said Iraq had returned a substantial amount of Kuwaiti property between 1991 and 1994 just as it returned the majority of unaccounted for persons in the early 1990s. But the Secretary-General stressed that Iraq has an obligation to resolve the outstanding claims by Kuwait.

The Security Council resolution last December that created a new arms inspection agency also reaffirmed Iraq's obligation to return Kuwaiti property and account for the missing Kuwaitis.

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