Kuwait issue dogs Arab summit

CAIRO, Jan 24 (South News) -Arab foreign ministers Sunday deleted from a final statement references to Iraq's occupation of Kuwait which had earlier prompted Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf to storm out.

References to Baghdad "provoking" its neighbours and demands that it "recognise that its occupation of Kuwait was a mistake," which were included in an earlier draft approved in an informal show of hands, were dropped from the final text adopted by the meeting.

The controversal draft statement which urged Iraq "to take the necessary steps to prove its peaceful intentions towards Kuwait and other neighbours by admitting that the Kuwaiti invasion was an error that violates the Arab League charter," prompted an angry response from Baghdad.

In August 1990 Iraq claimed it was invited into Kuwait  by a antiroyalist coup d'etat led by Colonel Alaa Hussein Ali but the US backed al-Sabah regime claimed "Instead of staging their coup d'etat and installing this so called free provisional government before the invasion, they got it the wrong way around. They invaded Kuwait and then staged the coup d'etat" to quote the words of Tom Pickering, US ambassador  to the UN at the Security Council meeting of August 2 1990.

Another of the clauses dropped asserted that such Iraqi "recognition is an essential condition for reaching real Arab solidarity and protecting the interests of the (Arab) nation." But the Arab ministers kept in a call for Iraq "to take the necessary steps to prove its good intentions towards Kuwait and neighbouring countries by words and deeds."

Sunday's foreign ministers' meeting was originally called at the request of Yemen in the immediate aftermath of the December 16-20 US-British air raids to discuss convening a full Arab summit dedicated to the Iraq crisis. The air strikes prompted street protests in several Arab countries and Iraq criticised Arab leaders for failing to condemn the raids as forthrightly as their citizens.

Earlier, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara said  that last month's U.S.-led air raids on Iraq had been futile and he urged Arab foreign ministers to work for an end to U.N. sanctions on Baghdad.

``They (the strikes) did not produce any clear outcome, except to aggravate the suffering of the Iraqi people,'' al-Shara said in an opening speech to an Arab League ministerial meeting at which he took the chair. ``How much longer can we live with this situation?'' he said of the sanctions imposed for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

``Is it not our duty to stop this dangerous and recurring game in which the whims and espionage of international inspectors are used to let the Americans flex their muscles and hit Iraq materially and the Arabs morally?'' al-Shara said. ``Is it not our right to call for the lifting of the embargo from Iraq? Let me call upon you to announce full solidarity with its people,'' he said.

Last year an official of the London-based  Iraqi National Congress (INC) reported that the Kuwaiti officer  leader of "Provisional Free Government of Kuwait" was given refugee status along with his wife and four children in Turkey and was later accepted for resettlement in a European country.

In September 1991, the Kuwait News Agency said Kuwaiti public prosecutor Mohammad al-Bannai was quoted as saying Kuwaiti authorities had dropped cases against all members of the pro Iraqi government apart from Alaa Hussein Ali.