December 21, 1997 in Nation/World

Kuwaiti Leader Decries Iraq At Arab Summit However, Has Surprising Good Words For Iran

Diana Elias Associated Press

Kuwait’s leader lashed out at Iraq during an Arab summit Saturday, charging Saddam Hussein with bringing suffering on his own people by refusing to fully comply with U.N. weapons inspectors.

“The Iraqi regime is still trying to evade the international resolutions,” Sheik Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah told leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

By such evasion, the Baghdad government caused the U.N. trade sanctions to be maintained and inflicted “suffering on the brotherly Iraqi people,” the emir told officials gathered at Bayan Palace.

The United Nations imposed an oil embargo and other economic sanctions on Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait in 1990, which touched off the Gulf War. The world organization has said the sanctions will remain in place until U.N. inspectors certify Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction.

Iraq says it has complied but U.N. officials dispute the claim. Meanwhile, international aid agencies say Iraq is suffering shortages of food and medicine.

But the emir, in his welcoming address to five other leaders of the GCC, praised Iran, which many Arab states have viewed warily amid allegations that it exports Islamic revolution.

The emir praised the role of Iran in last week’s Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Tehran, saying the Iranian government had launched a “new era” of neighborly relations in the Gulf.

Turning to the Middle East peace process, the emir said there could be no peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without “the return of all occupied lands, and the setting up of a Palestinian state with holy Jerusalem as its capital.”

The GCC - which comprises Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates - is organized to bolster trade and political ties among the six nations on the Arabian peninsula. But the group has recently been accused of not moving fast enough toward that goal.

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