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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Set to Recognize Kuwait Border

Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev left for Baghdad on Wednesday for a final round of talks expected to result in Iraq's formal recognition of Kuwait's borders.

Kozyrev will meet with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on Wednesday evening, Russian reports said. A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official added that the Iraqi parliament is already planning to meet Thursday to confirm the acceptance of demands by the United Nations for formal recognition of the emirate's borders and sovereignty.

Viktor Posuvalyuk, who heads the ministry's Middle East and North Africa department, said that the expected Iraqi step "is not restricted by any conditions," according to Itar-Tass.

Iraq's readiness to recognize Kuwaiti borders was reported Tuesday by the Foreign Ministry following a meeting in Moscow between Kozyrev and Iraq's deputy prime minister, Tareq Aziz, who reportedly handed Russian President Boris Yeltsin a letter on the issue.

The ministry statement said Yeltsin then ordered Kozyrev to go to Baghdad for final negotiations.

Saddam Hussein, in negotiations with Kozyrev, promised last month to recognize Kuwait's borders in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions. The Security Council, however, insisted that Baghdad's Revolutionary Council and its parliament make the recognition official.

Russia hopes such recognition would be a step toward the lifting of UN sanctions, imposed after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990.

The United States, however, said it would oppose any UN action to ease the sanctions, which includes a ban on purchases of Iraqi oil. "Border recognition would meet only one of a number of requirements with which Iraq has not complied and would not in itself establish Iraq's peaceful intentions," a U.S. State Department spokesman, David Johnson, told reporters in Washington.

He did not detail the other requirements, but Washington had in the past listed the need to account for Kuwaitis missing since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and a return of stolen property.

Iraq is also required under the resolutions to demonstrate it has abandoned the development of weapons of mass destruction before sanctions can be lifted.

On the border issue, Johnson said Iraq must recognize the line established by the UN in 1993 and do so in a way identical "in form and substance" to that in which it incorporated Kuwait into Iraq in 1990.

Johnson said the United States had discussed Aziz's trip to Moscow in advance with the Russians but had no knowledge of the results of his talks.

But, he said: "We would oppose any UN Security Council action which might lead Iraq to conclude that the Security Council might consider modifying the sanctions before Iraq has met fully its obligations."

Russians, once the Iraqis' main arms suppliers and a key trading partner, stand among those who would gain the most from the lifting of sanctions. They are keen to resolve the sanctions issue, since Iraqi ability to resume oil exports would clear the way for Baghdad to start paying Moscow a debt which Kozyrev estimated at around $7 billion for arms delivered in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, Russia is also eager to raise its profile in the Middle East. Earlier this month Kozyrev said a strong Russian role was needed in the area to counterbalance U.S. influence.