UNITED NATIONS, Dec 5 (KUNA) -- Following his visit to Kuwait on Wednesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is scheduled to visit Iraq on Thursday, to "strongly" encourage its leaders to implement the country's remaining obligations to Kuwait and "expedite this process as soon as possible." Ban told KUNA in an interview that he is "encouraged" by the improvement in the relationship between the two countries, "but more needs to be done." "I am excited to visit Kuwait again. This time, I am going to visit both Kuwait and Iraq," he said, indicating that he intends to discuss the matter with the leadership of both countries.
In Kuwait, the UN Chief is scheduled to meet with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Sabah Al-Kaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
"I am encouraged that, through high-level exchange of visits and positive outcome of the second session of the Joint Iraq-Kuwait Ministerial Committee last April, the relationship between Kuwait and Iraq is improving, but more needs to be done," he stressed.
He disclosed that "recently, I have been speaking to Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and I have been encouraging him to do all what Iraq is required to do in improving relationship with Kuwait and in also implementing relevant international obligations to Kuwait." "They (Iraqi leaders) want to be off the Council agenda (Chapter VII), but I would really strongly encourage Prime Minister Al-Maliki to expedite this process as soon as possible," he insisted. Kuwait had agreed on October 23 to endorse a deal on the settlement of the financial dispute between Kuwait and Iraq. It approved the pact reached by the two sides on July 18, 2012, to settle the financial dispute between (the formerly named) Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) and Iraq Airways and stop litigations in this regard.
Kuwait had also agreed to a settlement concerning navigational rights in the Khor Abdallah waterway. This week the Iraqi Government announced the names for the technical team of the border maintenance Project and will immediately update the list of farmers entitled to compensation. Ban wants both countries to build on these "positive developments." He disclosed that when Kuwait took the "positive measure" on Iraqi airways, "I telephoned Prime Minister Maliki to take this opportunity as a way to improve the relationship (with Kuwait). He told me he discussed this with the Prime Minister of Kuwait. I am going to really encourage both leaders" to continue to cooperate.
When he visited Kuwait and Iraq last March, he added, "I was very much encouraged. For the first time, there was an exchange of visits between the leaders in both countries. I hope this kind of relationship will continue." Ban believes "there needs to be a successor" to Gennady Tarasov, the High-Level Coordinator for the missing Kuwaitis and property, who will relinquish his post by end of the month.
"There are discussions going on between the UN Secretariat, the Security Council and also with both countries. Depending upon the outcome of these consultations, we will appoint a successor," Ban said.
Asked whether the Iraq-Kuwait issues will remain under the Security Council's care, as Kuwait insists, or be negotiated bilaterally between the two countries, as Iraq prefers, Ban said "it depends on the results of the consultations. One of my subjects to discuss with the leaders in both countries is this issue." On when he believes all the files between the two countries will be closed, Ban said "many issues have been resolved and implemented, but there are a few more issues. It is important that both countries, particularly both leaderships, discuss these matters and try to resolve all outstanding issues, so that, as far as Iraq is concerned, it can be able to implement all (relevant) Security Council resolutions." Ban is scheduled to issue a report to the Council on his trip on December 10th, and the Council is scheduled to discuss it on December 17th.
Ban said he is "very satisfied" in working together with the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti delegation in New York, stressing that Kuwait is a "strong partner" of the UN at all levels.
Ban is scheduled to meet in Kuwait with his newly-appointed Humanitarian Envoy for Kuwait Abdullah Al-Matoug. Ban appointed him last week in a "further step to strengthen the engagement with the Government of Kuwait." On the recent Kuwaiti Parliamentary elections, Ban said Kuwait is the "only Gulf country which has had a long tradition of 50 years of parliamentary elections and also recognized women's voting rights since 2006." His hope was that more women won Parliament seats.
On the other hand, he described the vote in the General Assembly last week to upgrade the Palestinian status to a non-member Observer State as "an important and historic development," reiterating his position that the genuine aspirations of the Palestinian people for a viable and independent State is a "legitimate one and long overdue." "I would like to see both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to immediately resume negotiations, to enable them to resolve all outstanding issues," he urged.
There were expectations from many member states, he added, that "it would have been better if the Palestinian bid came as a result of the negotiations between the two parties, but now that the General Assembly has decided, I think this is a dear decision, and they should work for a permanent settlement of outstanding issues." Asked if the Mideast Quartet, of which he is a member, along with the US, EU and Russia, has been doing a credible job, not even being able to meet, Ban came to its defense saying it has been playing a "very important role, making great contributions. I'll continue to work to contribute to an ultimate peace process." On events in Syria, he said he is "extremely concerned" about the way the Syrian crisis is unfolding. "The military violence must stop immediately" by both government and opposition forces. "They cannot go on like this way," he insisted, saying the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will soon discuss the matter with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
After his visit to Kuwait and Iraq, Ban is scheduled to visit thousands of Syrian refugees at the Jordanian and Turkish borders. (end) sj.asa KUNA 050953 Dec 12NNNN