Iraq's PM urges U.N. to end forced war reparations
Wed Jul 22, 2009 12:18pm EDT
Email | Print | Share| Reprints | Single Page[-] Text [+] By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday urged the five permanent U.N. Security Council members to cancel his country's obligation to pay Kuwait billions of dollars in war reparations.
After the 1991 Gulf war, the Security Council ordered Iraq to compensate countries that suffered as a result of its 1990-1991 occupation of neighboring Kuwait. Currently Baghdad must aside 5 percent of its oil revenues for reparations, most of which go to Kuwait.
Maliki told delegations from the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China that Iraq was no longer a threat to international peace and security as it was in 1991 when the late Saddam Hussein ruled the country.
It was to contain future threats that the international community imposed legally enforceable sanctions and other restrictions on Iraq under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter.
"All the decisions that were made previously on Iraq because of the sanctions and because of Iraq being a threat to the international community isn't required ... anymore," he told reporters through an interpreter after the closed-door meeting.
Maliki was confident his pleas were being taken seriously. "It's going to get the vote of the entire ... Security Council to take Iraq out of Chapter 7," he said.
Iraq says the reparations are an unfair burden and wants the percentage reduced so it has more money for reconstruction and development.
Kuwait strongly opposes ending Iraq's Chapter 7 status and has so far successfully lobbied Security Council members. But council diplomats say they may vote to lift the restrictions at the end of this year, which would enable Iraq to renegotiate the amount of reparations it pays to Kuwait.
Iraq has said it still owes $25.5 billion in reparations, $24 billion to Kuwait alone.
Relations between Iraq and Kuwait have become tense recently, with politicians in both countries trading accusations over the reparations.
Maliki said the five powers and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whom he met earlier at U.N. headquarters, understood Baghdad's position. He was also expected to raise the issue in with U.S. President Barack Obama later on Wednesday.
Maliki also urged Ban to confirm in a report he will soon submit to the Security Council the progress Iraq has made in establishing democracy and rule of law.
He said Ban should state that "Iraq is not going to be a risk or a threat to international security."http://www.reuters.com/article/newsO...56L4PJ20090722