First Iraqi Airways flight to Kuwait in 22 years lands

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Iraqi Airways has resumed direct flights to Kuwait on Wednesday for the first in more than quarter of a century.

On board the first flight was Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Kuwait's official news agency reported.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, after which flights between Iraq and its small neighbor to the south were suspended.

The assistant of Iraqi Airway’s general manager, Majid al-Amiri, said today’s first flight would have a celebratory atmosphere.

The flight will be an Airbus aircraft, he said, adding that hopefully either Iraqi Transportation Minister Hadi al-Amiri or a senior agent of the ministry will be on board along with Iraqi deputies and officials from the Kuwaiti embassy in Iraq.

“This flight comes after a compulsory hiatus that was hard for both Iraq and Kuwait and after all problems that prevented resuming these flights between the two brotherly countries are over,” he added.

Amiri also said that the Kuwaiti “royal decree to end lawsuits filed by the Kuwaiti Airways against the Iraqi Airways was of utmost importance because it allowed resuming direct Iraqi flights across the world.”

He added that direct flights between Iraq and Kuwait will also contribute to“quickly developing bilateral relations in different fields including those of economy, science and tourism.”

Regarding the number of direct flights per week, Amiri said they will be three, from Baghdad to Kuwait, Najaf to Kuwait and Erbil to Kuwait.

Earlier this week, the Iraqi transportation minister said in a statement that “the move came after vigorous efforts carried out by both countries to resolve inherited problems and finalize lawsuits.”

Problems between the two countries resulting from Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait had in the past few years affected bilateral relations as well as issues pertaining to debts and compensation.

Iraq had also requested Kuwait cancel its debts and lower compensations. Kuwait, however, rejected the request – a move that created tension between it and Iraq particularly on the level of parliamentary relations.

However, the visit of Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah in March 2012 to attend the Arab Summit Conference in Baghdad helped break the stalemate and pave way for developing relations.

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