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Gulf Arabs Urge Iraq to Allow U.N. Review

Middle East: Weapon inspections would aid in easing tensions in the region and could help end economic sanctions, state leaders say.

January 01, 2002|From Reuters

MUSCAT, Oman — Gulf Arab states urged neighboring Iraq on Monday to allow U.N. weapon inspectors back into the country or risk more tension in the Middle East.

The leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council also called on Iraq to show goodwill toward its neighbors and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kuwait, which Baghdad invaded in 1990 before being driven out seven months later by a U.S.-led multinational force.

The GCC alliance groups oil-rich Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Bahrain.

"The council calls on both Iraq and the secretary-general of the United Nations to resume negotiations to renew cooperation based on foundations whereby the Security Council can lift economic sanctions imposed on Iraq and end the suffering of the brotherly Iraqi people," said a communique at the end of a GCC summit in Oman.

The United Nations says sanctions, imposed on Iraq for its invasion of Kuwait, cannot be lifted unless Baghdad allows international weapon inspectors back into the country to check for weapons of mass destruction.

"We hope Iraq's obstinacy toward some Security Council resolutions will not lead to more tension in the region," GCC Secretary-General Jamil Hejailan said at the summit.

He also criticized Baghdad for continuing antagonism toward its pro-Western neighbors Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The leaders called on Iraq to cooperate over the issue of Kuwaitis and other nationals missing since the 1990-91 Gulf War and to return Kuwait state property.

President Bush has warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein he will "find out" the consequences if he does not readmit the arms inspectors, triggering speculation that Iraq might be the next target of the U.S.-led anti-terrorism war.

Iraq, which is on a U.S. list of states sponsoring terrorism, has denied any link to Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden, whom Washington accuses of planning the Sept. 11 attacks.

Hejailan said Saturday that the GCC would oppose any attack against any Arab country.

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