UNITED NATIONS -- Expressions of goodwill between Iraq and Kuwait must be translated into quick action to resolve the issue of Kuwaitis, other nationals, and property missing since the 1990-91 Gulf War, the UN Security Council said in a statement after a closed session on April 16.
The remains of 236 Kuwaiti and third-country nationals have so far been identified, but the security situation in recent years has prevented teams from Kuwait carrying out exhumation work at Iraqi burial sites.
On April 14, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon expressed concern that despite some progress the remains of 369 Kuwaiti and third-country nationals -- all believed to have been killed during Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait -- have not yet been identified.
Gennady Tarasov of Russia, the secretary-general's high-level coordinator on the issue of missing persons from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, reported to the council that the majority of these remains are apparently still in Iraq and are believed to be in mass burial sites, possibly mixed with remains of other victims of the former Iraqi regime. He noted also that the Kuwaiti national archives have yet to be found.
Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, the Security Council's president for April, stressed the need for all parties involved to translate political statements of goodwill into concrete actions that would strengthen the friendly relations between Iraq and Kuwait.
"The members of the council noted that limited progress had been made on the identification of human remains," Heller said. "The members of the Security Council again expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of those involved."
Heller said that the council appreciates the positive intentions of both Iraq and Kuwait to resolve the outstanding matters and welcomed the capacity-building project developed by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. It also agreed, he said, to finance the work of the UN high-level coordinator for another six months.
"The members of the council also took note that there was no progress on clarifying the fate of the Kuwaiti national archives," Heller noted.
"Nevertheless, the members of the council welcomed the return by the Iraqi government of audio and videotape recordings to the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information and that positive efforts are under way to resolve remaining issues related to the Kuwaiti Airways spare parts."
The Security Council expressed willingness to review this matter again in the near future.