Security Council members urge Iraq to cooperate on issue of missing Kuwaitis

Security Council members urge Iraq to cooperate on issue of missing Kuwaitis

Expressing "deep concern" at the continuing plight of missing Kuwaitis and nationals of other countries in Iraq following the Persian Gulf war, members of the Security Council today urged Baghdad to cooperate with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's high-level envoy to resolve the issue.

Council President for the month of August, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, told reporters in New York that Council members expressed their hope that the issue would continue to be dealt with by all sides strictly as a "humanitarian one" and be resolved urgently.

They also expressed their unanimous support for the work of the Secretary-General's High Level Coordinator, Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, and his efforts to bring the matter to a "satisfactory conclusion," Ambassador Valdivieso said.

Earlier Tuesday, Ambassador Vorontsov briefed the Council on the Secretary-General's latest report on missing Kuwaitis and third-country nationals, which detailed the lack of progress due to the continued Iraqi refusal to cooperate on the issue.

In his report, Mr. Annan had expressed regret that the Iraqi Government remained unwilling to cooperate with Ambassador Vorontsov to resolve the issue on the grounds that it rejected Security Council resolution 1284, which created the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) to undertake the responsibilities of the former UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) in monitoring the elimination of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The Secretary-General said he was firmly convinced that cooperation between the Government of Iraq and Ambassador 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.

Meanwhile, the UN office that administers the humanitarian "oil-for-food" programme for Iraq said today in its weekly update that Baghdad's oil exports remained constant at 13.9 million barrels, the same as the previous week's total. The current phase of the oil-for-food programme, which ends on 30 November, has so far earned Iraq an estimated $1.6 billion in revenue from oil sales.

The Office of the Iraq Programme (OIP) also said the value of contracts placed on hold by the Security Council sanctions committee dropped slightly to $3.48 billion from the previous week's total of $3.5 billion, mostly owing to the release of a single high-value contract in the electricity sector. A gas turbine contract, valued at $77.8 million, which had been on hold for over one year, was released by the committee on the condition of close end-use monitoring by the UN observation mechanism in Iraq.