Official Says Arab Oil Group Won’t Leave Kuwait or Expel Iraq
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ A senior Egyptian oil official Tuesday ruled out the possibility that Iraq might be expelled from an Arab petroleum organization as punishment for invading Kuwait.
Mohammed Shawkat, adviser to Oil Minister Abdel-Hady Kandil, said there is no plan for oil ministers of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries even to discuss the idea at their meeting Saturday in Cairo.
″To begin with, this is not on the agenda,″ said Shawkat, who will be the conference spokesman.
″Moreover, it’s a political issue, and OAPEC’s charter excludes politics. The organization has economic objectives involving cooperation and policy coordination among its members.″
Shawkat was commenting on speculation that Kuwait or other members of the 10-country group would suggest to the ministers that Iraq be expelled. There also have been reports that the ministers would consider moving the organization’s headquarters from Kuwait, which Iraq annexed on Aug. 8, six days after the invasion.
Such a suggestion might come before the ministers, Shawkat said. Iraq might want it moved to Baghdad to dramatize its assertion of sovereignty over Kuwait, or another member may propose temporarily relocating OAPEC’s headquarters because of its inability to function under Iraqi occupation.
″Again, this is not on the agenda, but someone may suggest it under the customary agenda item of other business,″ he said in an interview.
But he indicated that Egypt, the meeting’s chairman, would contest it as a double violation of the charter: the suggestion, at least if proposed by Iraq, would be political, and the charter specifies Kuwait as the organization’s home.
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Libya founded OAPEC in 1968 partly to stimulate investment by member countries in each other’s oil industries. In addition to the founders, it now includes Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Syria and Algeria.
Shawkat said the agenda of the Cairo meeting includes a joint project for building a drydock in Algeria, a plan to develop an OAPEC training institute in Baghdad and the group’s 1991 budget. He refused to disclose the proposed budget estimates.
Iraq has not notified Egypt as the organizer whether its oil minister will participate, Shawkat said. If he does not come, Iraq will be represented by its Cairo ambassador, Nabil Najm.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein last month named his son-in-law Hussein Kamel Hassan acting oil minister after firing Issam al-Chalabi from the oil portfolio.