Kuwait urged to turn Gulf war damages into joint projects
Web posted at: 8/2/2009 7:51:10
Source ::: FINANCIAL TIMES
By Harvey Morris at the United Nations
Kuwait is being urged to convert $24bn of war reparations owed it by Iraq since the time of Saddam Hussein into investment projects that would benefit both countries.
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general, was today meeting Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, Kuwaiti foreign minister, after giving his support to the investment proposal in a report to the Security Council.
Nineteen years after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and six since the overthrow of Saddam, Iraq is still subject to US sanctions requiring it to pay the balance of $52bn (€37bn, £32bn) in war damages.
Some $27bn has already been paid out to Kuwait as well as to individuals, companies, other governments and international organisations that suffered losses in the invasion and subsequent US-led war to oust Saddam’s forces. Nouri Al Maliki, Iraqi prime minister, last week urged the five permanent members of the Security Council to cancel his country’s debt to Kuwait, arguing Iraq was no longer a threat to peace and security as it was in 1991.
Kuwait, however, has rejected the Iraqi proposal, insisting the reparations be paid in full. At a meeting in Jordan in May, the two sides had a preliminary discussion on alternatives that might include shifting the unpaid compensation to infrastructure investment.
Iraq pays 5 percent of its quarterly oil, gas and petroleum products income to a reparations fund, down from 30 percent immediately after the war. The Baghdad government says it needs the energy profits for its own development.
The outstanding $25.2bn awards to Kuwait mainly relate to losses in the oil sector, including the cost of extinguishing oil well fires.