Delegation heads to Baghdad to discuss money owed Egypt

Egypt's manpower and immigration minister, Ahmed Hassan al-Borai, left for Iraq on Tuesday for negotiations on what the country owes Egypt, an Egyptian diplomatic source said.

Borai will visit Baghdad with a delegation of foreign affairs and finance officials, as well as representatives from the Central Bank of Egypt.

The Egyptian delegation will meet with a number of Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the country's labor and finance ministers, the source said.

The discussions will also focus on the hundreds of millions of US dollars in debt, known as yellow remittances, accumulated during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

The remittances are money Iraq owes Egyptian workers who fled the country during the first Gulf War in the early '90s, leaving their money and businesses behind.

Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs Mohamed Qasim told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the aim behind the visit was to find a final solution for the problem.

He said the original debt owed to Egyptian workers who left Iraq amounts to more than US$425 million, not including interest.

“Through our negotiations with the Iraqi side, we are now trying to find a solution to the problem of the original debt owed for the yellow remittances and the signing of accord,” said Qasim. “We will also come to an agreement regarding the payment of interest due.”

Qasim said solving the problem does not mean waiving or cancelling government debt and the rights of Egyptian companies that were operating in Iraq during the Gulf War.

He said that yellow remittances and government debt were two different things and should be dealt with separately.

Borai's visit will help prepare the ground for Prime Minister Essam Sharaf's anticipated trip to the country following an invitation from Maliki, Qasim said.

He said Borai and his delegation will also explore whether the security situation is suitable enough for Egyptian workers to return to Iraq.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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