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Kuwaiti PM, in Baghdad, eyes investment in Iraq

Kuwait seeking to invest in war-shattered Iraq.

January 13, 2011 2:08 by

Kuwait declared its interest in investing in Iraq as its prime minister on Wednesday paid the first visit to Baghdad by a premier from the Gulf state since Saddam Hussein invaded it in 1990.

Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah met his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki in an effort to improve ties, still strained by Kuwait’s insistence that Baghdad owes it around $22 billion in reparations.

Iraq’s new Shi’ite leaders have argued they should not be held accountable for the actions of Sunni dictator Saddam, overthrown in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“We have many ideas and we have a real desire to build bridges between the two populations … there is a wide desire to invest in the Iraqi infrastructure and this is what we want to discuss,” said Kuwait Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Salem al-Sabah, who travelled with the premier.

Some Kuwaiti firms, like Agility, the Gulf’s biggest logistics provider, are expanding into Iraq, and the two states have reached initial agreements to share border oil fields.

But occasional friction still erupts. A Kuwaiti coast guard member died on Monday during a confrontation with Iraqi fishermen Kuwaiti officials said had strayed into their waters.

“I believe this visit is capable of repairing relations between the two countries if other steps are also being taken,” said Iraqi political analyst Ibrahim al-Sumaidaie.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said a ministerial committee would be formed to discuss issues between the two countries, and Maliki was expected to visit Kuwait soon.

(Additional reporting by Khalid al-Ansary and Aseel Kami in Baghdad and Eman Goma in Kuwait; Writing by Serena Chaudhry; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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