Top Kuwaiti envoy in Baghad
Kuwait's deputy prime minister visited Iraq on Thursday in the highest-level visit by a Kuwaiti official since Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of the Gulf neighbor. The talks came as Kuwait celebrated the 18th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that drove out Saddam's forces and left American warplanes patrolling parts of Iraqi airspace for more than a decade. Sheik Mohammed Al Sabah, who also is Kuwait's foreign minister, is the latest high-profile Arab envoy to accept the Baghdad's offer for better regional cooperation. Kuwait and several other mostly Sunni Arab nations have restored diplomatic ties, but remain wary of the Shiite-led government's relations with Iran.
"We our working on the concepts of security and stability, not the ideas of weapons and dictatorship of the Saddam era," said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, after a meeting with Sheik Mohammed.
The Kuwait News Agency reported Mohammed was expected to return along with Kuwait's prime minister, Sheik Nasser Al Mohammed Al Sabah, on an official visit to Baghdad soon. No date has been set for that visit.
Ties between the two countries were severed when Saddam invaded. Kuwait and Iraq resumed relations after Saddam's fall in 2003 and a Kuwaiti ambassador arrived last fall.
In southern Iraq on Thursday, authorities buried the remains of more than 480 Iraqi soldiers from two wars during Saddam's rule. The ceremony near Basra included the remains of troops from Iraq's 1980-88 war with Iran and the 1991 U.S.-led invasion that ended Iraq's seven-month occupation of Kuwait. The graves include remains of nearly 250 soldiers returned by Iran last year and more than 60 from Saudi Arabia, where some of the 1991 fighting spilled over.
The Basra human rights commission director, Mahdi al-Timimi, said the remains of 309 soldiers have been identified. The rest remain unknown. Relatives can ask to exhume a family member's remains for burial in another site.
More than 1 million people died in the Iran-Iraq war and Iraqi soldiers suffered heavy losses in being driven from Kuwait. U.S. warplanes later enforced no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq. Meanwhile, two Iraqi soldiers were killed and 12 other people _ mostly students _ wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad on Thursday, apparently targeting a military patrol near Baghdad University, police and hospital officials said.
The officials gave the casualty toll on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information. Iraqi security forces have frequently been targeted by extremists seeking to derail security gains. The Iraqis are usually more vulnerable than the heavily armored American troops.
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