11/07/2013 | 07:42 PM | World News
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (KUNA) - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday commended the statesmanship of the Kuwaiti and Iraqi leaders for the "remarkable progress" achieved towards the full normalization of relations between the two countries.

In his periodic report to the Security Council on the work of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Ban expressed hope that the Kuwaiti and Iraqi Governments "will now work hand in hand to increase cooperation in all areas for the benefit of their people." He said Iraq has made "great strides" towards restoring the international standing it held prior to its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 while the Saddam Hussein regime was in power. He welcomed the Council's adoption last month of resolution 2107 which entrusted the issue of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property to UNAMI, under Chapter VI of the UN Charter.

Iraq still has a number of obligations to fulfill before exiting Chapter VII, which threatens Iraq with sanctions and possible military action if it fails to do so, including continuing to pay some USD 11 billion to Kuwait until 2015, in compensation for the damage caused by the invasion.

On Iraq's relation with its neighbours, Ban said "it is becoming increasingly clear that the events in the region cannot be separated," referring specifically, with "much concern" to the impact of the "tragic conflict" in Syria on neighbouring countries, including Iraq.

He noted that "the sectarian aspects of the fighting in Syria are now affecting the region adversely. The conflict in Syria has impacted Iraq not only in terms of the number of refugees..., but also in terms of Iraq's security and political stability." On the political situation in Iraq, Ban said the scale of renewed violence in the country is "alarming" and urged political leaders from all sides to intensify their efforts to resolve the ongoing political stalemate in accordance with the Constitution, through serious dialogue and with a spirit of compromise, so that no vacuum is left to those who seek to exploit the situation through violence and terror.

On UNAMI's presence in Iraq, Ban complained that the continued absence of a status-of-mission agreement between the UN and Iraq "hampers UNAMI and the UN country team's ability to undertake mandated activities in support of the Government and people of Iraq." This absence, he added, "raises questions negatively impacting on the ability of the UN to continue to operate with the necessary security and legal umbrella." The Head of UNAMI Martin Kobler is scheduled to brief the Council on July 16th for the last time before taking his new UN post in the DR of Congo, and the Council is scheduled to renew UNAMI's mandate on July 24th. (end)

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