Ban urges Iraq, Kuwait to achieve "significant" progress on missing
Politics 10/20/2009 11:07:00 AM
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 20 (KUNA) -- Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon late Monday welcomed the "fragile" progress on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals, and urged Iraq and Kuwait to redouble their efforts in the coming months, with the support of the Security Council, to achieve more "significant" progress.
"I welcome the fact that the first six months of the confidence and cooperation-building period have brought about initial indications of movement on the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals," Ban told the Security Council in a report.
"I commend the concrete efforts undertaken by Iraq to meet its responsibilities under paragraph 14 of Security Council resolution 1284 of 1999.
I appreciate Kuwait's positive and supportive attitude," he added.
Ban recalled that he had made a proposal last April to introduce a "confidence and cooperation-building period" between Iraq and Kuwait lasting until June 2010 to further encourage the parties to achieve "visible and significant progress and to strengthen their practical cooperation" on the issues of missing Kuwaitis and the return of property.
Ban described the progress achieved so far as "fragile" and called on Iraq and Kuwait to "redouble their efforts in the coming months to achieve visible and significant progress in the search for missing persons as well as property, including archives."
This, he argued, "will not only help to resolve the long-standing humanitarian issue but increase mutual trust and confidence, thus contributing to the resolution of other outstanding problems between the two countries, strengthening their good-neighborly relations and enhancing regional stability and cooperation." Ban stressed that this objective can be achieved only through increased cooperation between the two countries in the framework of the Tripartite Commission and with the continued support of the international community and the Security Council.
In this regard, Ban recommended that the council extend the financing of the mandate of Gennady Tarasov, the UN High-Level Coordinator for both issues, until June 2010, in order to achieve objectives of his mission and promote the process of confidence and cooperation-building between Iraq and Kuwait.
He said Tazasov visited Kuwait twice, first from May 30 to June 3, then October 4-7, where he met with His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and Dr. Sheikh Mohammad Al-Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, who favoured extending Tarasov's mandate for another year and that his mandate "should be carried out until its objectives are attained and should not be influenced by political considerations."
Tarasov, Ban said in the report, noted that the Kuwaiti National Committee on Missing persons welcomed the visiting Iraqi delegation's report to the 62nd session of the Technical Subcommittee (TSC), which was held in Kuwait on October 6th, on the "specific measures already taken and yet to be taken" by Iraq with a view to finding and returning mortal remains of the missing persons.
He was informed that the delegation of Iraq had presented its "Plan of Action," indicating the reconnaissance activities by Iraqi teams at the burial sites in the provinces of Karbela, Anbar, Baghdad (Salman Pak area), Samawa and Nasiriya and the expected timeline of their completion by November 2009.
The Iraqi plan of action contains the names of burial sites, the estimated cost and the estimated period for completion of work.
In Karbala governorate, the estimated cost of exhumation is six million dinars and the estimated period for completion is 1 to 14 October.
In Anbar governorate, the estimated cost is three million dinars and the estimated period is 15 to 20 October.
In Baghdad, the estimated cost is 2.5 million dinars and the estimated period is 25 to 28 October.
In Samawah governorate, the estimated cost is three million dinars and the estimated period of completion is 1 to 6 November.
In Nasiriyah governorate, the estimated cost is 5 million dinars and the estimated period is 7 to 17 November.
It is envisaged that a joint Kuwaiti-Iraqi team will be formed to undertake exhumation should mortal remains of Kuwaiti and third-country nationals be found at these locations, the report said.
Ban annexed to his report a letter conveyed to Tarasov by Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UN Abdullah Al Murad earlier this month and signed by Dr. Ibrahim Majid Al-Shaheen, the Acting President of the National Committee for Missing Persons and Prisoners of War Affairs who expressed satisfaction at the Iraqi steps to resolve the issue.
"However, the real yardstick is the achievement of results, consisting in the finding of the remains of Kuwaiti prisoners in Iraq. Achieving tangible results requires Government support in that direction at the highest level, which in turn implies the creation of a team comprising all the parties and authorities concerned, with responsibility for bringing the issue of Kuwaiti prisoners to a conclusion," Al-Shaheen said.
"There is no doubt that the work must not stop at mere searching or digging, for indeed we hope that the Iraqi authorities will make efforts suggestive of the work of a detective or prosecutor with a view to finding the sites where those prisoners were buried," he added.
Al-Shaheen stressed in his letter that "finding those remains constitutes an obligation for the Iraqi side" and emphasized its "legal and humanitarian responsibility. We also stress that those steps must yield tangible positive results indicative of real cooperation in resolving the Kuwaiti prisoner issue.
" Al-Shaheen reaffirmed the need to have follow-up of the activity of the Iraqi side and evaluation thereof by the United Nations, based on the criterion of the results achieved, and not to settle for mere declarations about activities, so as to avoid any encouragement that might lead to a slackening of those activities.
He stressed the need for a continued role of the United Nations in monitoring the seriousness of both activities and results and the fact that implementation of Security Council resolution 1284 "requires the return to Kuwait of all remains of Kuwaiti prisoners and third-country nationals."
According to the report, Tarasov, while still in Kuwait, was also informed by the Head of the Iraqi delegation to the TSC meeting about the "determination of Iraq to continue its efforts" in the search for missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals.
Tarasov was even shown an Iraqi newspaper published on 16 August containing photographs of Kuwaiti and third-country missing persons and asked Iraqi citizens who might have any information about their whereabouts or gravesites to notify the authorities.
With regard to the return of Kuwaiti property, Ban expressed regret that the Kuwaiti national archives have not been found and "no credible information about their whereabouts has emerged."
He said Tarasov was told by Kuwaiti officials that Kuwait would "welcome the preparation by Iraq of a specific plan of action to demonstrate that a concerted effort to investigate the fate of the archives is underway.
" He added that Iraq has continued to return items seized by the former Iraqi regime during its occupation of Kuwait in 1990.
On 24 June, for instance, Iraq handed over to Kuwait silver coins, travellers' cheques, Kuwaiti postage stamps and old-issue bank notes belonging to the Central Bank of Kuwait. The Security Council is scheduled to examine Ban's report this Thursday.
(end) sj.rk KUNA 201107 Oct 09NNNN