Security Council calls on Iraq to stand by its intention on missing

Council members “support the Secretary-General’s call upon Iraq to stand by its intention to fully implement decisions of the Beirut summit [of the Arab League] regarding the issue of missing persons,” Ambassador Sergey Lavrov of the Russian Federation, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member body, told the press in a statement today. Ambassador Lavrov’s comments followed a closed-door meeting of the Council, which heard a briefing by the UN’s High Level Coordinator on the issue, Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov, who presented Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s latest report on Iraq’s compliance with its obligations regarding the repatriation or return of all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals or their remains.That report, which was released today at UN Headquarters, provides details on the developments at the Beirut meeting. According to the report, a senior Kuwaiti official at the summit voiced satisfaction with the text of the forum’s Declaration, which referred to seeking an expeditious and definitive solution to the issue of the Kuwaiti prisoners and detainees, and cooperation regarding the list provided by Iraq of all its missing persons. The report also notes that the Iraqi Foreign Minister “expressed optimism about a rapprochement with Kuwait.”In the press statement today, Council members expressed deep concern at the continuing plight of the Kuwaiti and third country nationals still remaining in Iraq, and voiced hope that “this issue would continue to be dealt with as a strictly humanitarian one by all sides concerned and be resolved urgently.”While recognizing growing international efforts to “persuade Iraq to change its stance of non-cooperation,” Council members urged Baghdad to resume its participation in all bodies dealing with the issue. Specifically, they called on Iraq to cooperate fully with Ambassador Vorontsov.Addressing this issue in his report, the Secretary-General stresses that the establishment of a dialogue between Ambassador Vorontsov and the Iraqi authorities is “vitally important” and reminds Baghdad that its cooperation with the High-Level Coordinator “would not be inconsistent with Iraq’s own stated assurances that it regards the problem of missing persons as a humanitarian one.”