Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohamed made a historic visit to Baghdad Wednesday (January 12th) that led to formation of a high ministerial committee to discuss outstanding issues between the two countries.
The major issues include missing Kuwaitis following the 1990 Iraqi invasion, demarcation of land and sea borders, and compensation Iraq owes Kuwait for the invasion.
Sheikh Nasser's visit to Iraq is the first of its kind since the invasion. It is also the first visit at this level since 1989 when the late Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah visited Baghdad.
The Kuwaiti delegation included Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al-Salim al-Sabah, Advisor at the Amiri Diwan Mohammed Abul Hasan, Naval Force Commander Maj. Gen. Khalid al-Jarallah, and Ambassador to Iraq Ali al-Momen.
The Kuwaiti officials held talks with an Iraqi delegation led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"This visit is a positive move by the Kuwaitis to turn the page on the past and get past the problems that were caused by Saddam Hussein's hostile policies against the Iraqi and Kuwaiti people," said Iraqi lawmaker Ezzat al-Shabandar of the National Alliance.
After the meeting, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi called for "starting a new chapter of brotherly relations between Iraq and Kuwait based on mutual respect and joint co-operation".
"Iraqi and Kuwaiti democracies will be integrated on the basis of being good neighbours, brotherhood and joint co-operation, especially since there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved by both sides," al-Nujaifi said.
Journalist Zuhair Dujaili, the former president of the Kuwaiti-Iraqi Friendship Association said, "It is positive for all sides."
Dujaili said, "Nouri al-Maliki's statements about the end of all of Iraq's old ambitions in Kuwait were the main issue that helped melt the ice between the two countries".
He added, "The statements of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister that Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad would attend the Arab summit conference in Baghdad this March was enough to improve diplomatic relations between Kuwait and Iraq and open the path of understanding between them."
He said, "Iraq is trying to build bridges with all neighbouring countries in the Arab Gulf, increasing trade and investment. It was announced in Iraq that priority would be given to Kuwaiti companies and capital."
Shamlan al-Essa, a political scientist at Kuwait University said, "This visit was arranged a long time ago on the condition that all outstanding issues between the two countries would be resolved. A formula was reached on the demarcation of borders between the two countries."
Al-Essa said Sheikh Nasser's visit to Iraq "has many positives, as the introduction of a large amount of capital, whether in Kuwait or Iraq, will enable commercial markets and economic activity in the two countries to recover. Crisis resolution committees in Kuwait and Iraq can find solutions to compensate for the past."
"Even before this visit, the number of Kuwaiti companies in Iraq was growing, and a major commercial port was being built by Kuwait in Iraq which operates solely to export Iraqi goods to all countries and transfer goods by way of the train station located between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. These among the most important initiatives the visit provided," al-Essa said.
Iraqi Parliament member Muayid al-Tayeb of the Kurdish Alliance, said "There is a joint desire on both sides to deepen bilateral ties in all fields and to get past all obstacles that hinder the creation of strategic relations based on dialog, understanding and mutual interests."
Ibrahim Hadban, a professor of political science at Kuwait University said, "What increased its significance were constructive comments by the two parties and the emphasis on attendance by the Emir at the Arab summit conference."
Hadban added, "The most positive aspect of this visit is that it occurred at all. It indicates a restoration of diplomatic relations at a high level between Iraq and Kuwait and gives Iraq greater capacity and courage to accelerate the pace of development in economic, social, and educational aspects of public life."
He predicted that the positives would include "recovery in all areas in Iraq and exchange of funds between companies in both countries, which will contribute to Iraq's re-emergence on the economic map".