(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed regret that no more remains of missing Kuwaiti nationals or Kuwaiti national archives have been found in Iraq, despite the "enabling climate of cooperation" and the "deepening ties" between the two countries
In a report to the Security Council, addressed late on Friday, Ban wrote "it is certainly regrettable as with the passage of time technical and practical difficulties of finding mortal remains increase. Obtaining precise information that can facilitate the search as well as tracing, reaching out to and securing cooperation of reliable witnesses becomes a challenge." He said the Iraqi authorities indicated to his Deputy Special Representative in the country, Gyorgy Busztin, that there are challenges in addressing the issues of missing Kuwaiti and third-country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including its national archives
They indicated, he explained, that with the passage of time, reliable witnesses have either passed away, live in third countries or wish to disassociate themselves from their past. Reliable and quality information, he added, has become difficult to obtain, thus "increasing dependency on second-hand and often inaccurate information." Despite these challenges, the Iraqi authorities sought suggestions from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) so that their efforts can yield results
He said the Iraqi authorities carried out excavations in various sites looking for the remains of the Kuwaiti and other nationals missing since the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. "Nevertheless, all these efforts are yet to produce results," he said, adding that plans for excavations in the Salman Pak area in Baghdad governorate, continue to be hindered by "security concerns.
Ban acknowledged that Iraq is "aware of its obligations ... and is determined to live up to the expectations," however "I urge Iraqi authorities to redouble their efforts and to explore all possible incentives to persuade witnesses and informants to come forward." Ban also expressed disappointment that no tangible progress has been achieved on the national archives either. "I urge the Government of Iraq to bring innovative methods to their search. UNAMI stands ready to assist," he vowed
He called on both the Iraqi and Kuwaiti committees on property to work closely and meet together on a regular basis. Busztin urged Iraqi and Kuwaiti representatives to convene a joint meeting of their committees, as they had not met since their first and only meeting on 15 May 2013 in Kuwait. Iraq offered to host the next meeting in Baghdad. On the most recent findings, Ban mentioned that the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research collected 100,000 books, scientific journals, and 500 theses; the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities found 247 books, one copper plate, a painting and publications; and the Ministry of Culture claimed it is in possession of a number of books and publications.
He said UNAMI suggested that these items be handed over to Kuwait when the two committees on missing property meet, may be in Iraq, as suggested by Baghdad. The Council is scheduled to discuss the report on March 27th