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Kuwaiti Official Promotes Democracy for Iraq - 2003-04-07


As U.S. and British leaders get ready to discuss how to govern post-war Iraq, a top Kuwaiti official said the sooner the Iraqi people govern themselves, the fewer problems there will be. The comments come from a Kuwaiti Minister speaking in Beijing.

Kuwait's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohamad Sabah Salem Al-Sabah, said Kuwait wants its large neighbor to become democratic and peaceful - and stay within its own borders.

Kuwait has an intense interest in the Iraq war. It was Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait that set off the first Gulf War more than a decade ago. Unresolved disputes from that war, including Iraq's suspected store of illegal weapons of mass destruction, set off the current conflict.

Mr. Al-Sabah said Saddam Hussein's autocratic government in Iraq is the principle reason for instability in the region. Under Saddam's leadership, Iraq attacked Iran and Kuwait, and then ignored U.N. resolutions, sparking three wars in 20 years.

The Kuwaiti minister said a democratic government in Iraq would be less threatening to its neighbors. "The first best solution is for Iraq to be ruled by Iraqis. Whether this is possible in the short term remains to be seen. I hope that we will be able to have an Iraqi government, by the Iraqi people, for the Iraqi people in the shortest possible time," Mr. Al-Sabah said.

During his meetings with top Chinese officials in Beijing, Mr. Al-Sabah said China has agreed to condemn Iraq for firing missiles at civilian targets in Kuwait in the early phases of the current war.

A news report said one of those missiles might have been Chinese-made, but Mr. Al-Sabah said Beijing insists it cut off its military relationship with Iraq years ago, and this weapon was left over from an earlier arms deal.

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