Annan says Baghdad holds key to solving case of missing Kuwaitis

“I continue to be firmly convinced that cooperation between the Government of Iraq and Ambassador [Yuli] Vorontsov could constitute the beginning of a dialogue through which it would be possible to resolve the issue of repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains,” Mr. Annan writes in a just-released report to the Security Council. According to the report, despite Ambassador Vorontsov’s extensive contacts, he is currently “not in a position to report more tangible progress on the issue of the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains.” The Secretary-General expresses regret that the Iraqi Government remains unwilling to cooperate with Ambassador Vorontsov “on the grounds that it rejects” Security Council resolution 1284. Adopted in 1999, that text created the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to undertake the responsibilities of the former UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) which was charged with monitoring the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. While operational, UNMOVIC has yet to receive access to Iraq. The Secretary-General emphasizes that Iraq “should appreciate the fact that the international community is not selective” in its search for a resolution of all cases of missing persons, whether they be Kuwaiti, Saudi, Iraqi or others. “As the Government of Iraq claims to seek a resolution to the issue of its own missing nationals, it is essential that it exercise an appropriate and sensitive understanding of the position held by the Government of Kuwait and other countries concerned,” he writes. According to the report, the nationals to be repatriated or returned include 570 Kuwaitis, 3 Lebanese, 4 Iranians, 5 Egyptians, 4 Syrians, 1 Bahraini, 1 Omani and 14 Saudi Arabians, while Baghdad claims there are 1,142 missing Iraqis.

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