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Ban Ki-moon in Baghdad


Pic: AFP

Baghdad: UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad on Thursday for talks with Iraqi leaders, state television said, after a visit to Kuwait in which he called for a new era in relations between the two countries.

After his arrival, the UN secretary general went into a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, said Iraqiya TV, without providing further details. There are various outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait stemming from Iraq's 1990 invasion of its
neighbour to the south. Baghdad currently pays five percent of its oil and gas revenue into a special United Nations fund that pays compensation to Kuwait.

Ban said in Kuwait on Wednesday that he is "committed to normalisation and to ensuring that Iraq fulfils all of its outstanding international obligations regarding Kuwait as the Security Council has mandated".

"Tomorrow I will visit Iraq and share the same message I bring today: it is time to usher in a new era of cooperation between the two neighbours," he said.

The visit also comes at a time of high tensions between Iraq's federal government and the autonomous Kurdistan region, during which military reinforcements have been sent to disputed areas in the country's north.

Talks between federal and Kurdish security officials aimed at easing the tensions broke down last week over Baghdad's refusal to scrap a new federal military command that covers disputed territory, Kurdistan said.

The dispute over territory in northern Iraq is the biggest threat to the country's long-term stability, diplomats and officials say.

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