KUWAIT CITY (AFP) – Kuwait’s premier has accepted an invitation to visit Iraq, in what would be a first since the forces of dictator Saddam Hussein invaded the Gulf emirate 18 years ago.
Iraqi Finance Minister Bayan Jabr Solagh delivered the invitation to Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah on Sunday during a visit to discuss debt and war reparations, according to an official statement on Monday.
“The premier accepted the invitation and its date will be determined soon through diplomatic channels,” said the statement, quoted by the state-run KUNA news agency.
It said the emirate was awaiting the return to Baghdad of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani who is convalescing in the United States following heart surgery last month.
Sheikh Mohammad said that during the visit, Kuwait’s newly appointed ambassador, former army chief Ali al-Momen, would present his credentials — becoming the first ambassador to Baghdad since the 1990 invasion.
The two neighbours have yet to settle a number of issues related to debt and war compensation estimated at tens of billions of dollars.
Kuwait has claimed damages from Iraq for the invasion and the seven-month occupation by Saddam’s forces, which were expelled in 1991 by a US-led coalition.
Iraq is required to pay five percent of its oil revenue into a fund created by the UN Security Council to pay compensation for war damage linked to the Kuwait occupation.
Iraq in April called on Gulf states to waive compensation and debt. The United Arab Emirates last month waived seven billion dollars that Baghdad owed and other states have promised to do the same.
Figures released at the time showed the UN compensation fund has received claims worth 354 billion dollars, but had approved payments of just over 52 billion dollars, including around 45 billion dollars for Kuwait.
The fund had paid out more than 21 billion dollars, including around 11 billion dollars for Kuwait.
Saddam was toppled after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and executed for crimes against humanity in December 2006.