Iraq pays $408 million Gulf War debt to Egypt

Iraq completed a transfer of US$408 million on Friday to hundreds of thousands of Egyptian workers who fled Iraq in the early 1990s, MENA news agency reported on Saturday.

Last week and during a visit to Cairo, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr signed an agreement that settled the two-decade-old debts to Egypt, known as "yellow remittances.”

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians suffered financial losses when they fled the country after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Many left bank accounts and businesses behind.

The two countries have been trying to resolve the issue, which involves approximately 637,000 Egyptians, since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Egyptian authorities said that originally $408 million was owed to Egyptian workers, but with interest, the current debt has reached $544 million.

Iraq on Saturday said that it had agreed to pay the money, Reuters reported.

Saddam's invasion of Kuwait led to the 1991 Gulf War, when US-led forces drove Iraqi troops from Kuwait but left Iraq’s ruler in power for another 12 years. US troops returned to topple Saddam in a second invasion in 2003, withdrawing in December 2011.

Iraq has made an effort to resolve Gulf War-era disputes with other Arab states ahead of a March 27-29 summit of Arab leaders, the first time the Arab League has gathered in the Iraqi capital since the 1991 Gulf War.

Earlier this week Iraq reached a $500 million deal with Kuwait that resolved a dispute over aircraft and plane parts that Saddam's forces took during the invasion.

The dispute had made it difficult for Iraqi Airways to fly to European and American cities without risking the confiscation of its planes.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government will be hosting the Arab League summit, in the debut of post-Saddam Iraq as a new center of regional politics, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops.


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