Iran and Iraq to swap war dead
BAGHDAD, June 3 (AFP) - Iran and Iraq will exchange next Tuesday the
remains of more of their soldiers killed during the 1980-1988 war, an Iraqi
weekly newspaper reported Thursday.
The handover will take place at the Shalameja border post near the
southern Iraqi city of Basra, said Al-Zawra, organ of the journalists'
union which is run by President Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday.
It quoted foreign ministry sources but did not give any numbers.
A joint commission on POWs will hold a meeting at the border post the
same day to "consider technical problems holding up search operations
and the means to overcome them," Al-Zawra said.
The last handover took place on April 17 at Shalameja when 164 Iranian
bodies were exchanged for 221 Iraqi corpses.
But the same day Iraq accused Iran of hindering the normalisation of
relations because of the POW issue.
Baghdad insists it has freed all Iranian POWs, apart from 64 "criminals"
who took part in a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf
War. It says 20,000 Iraqi POWs remain in Iranian jails.
Since the end of the war, more than 90,000 prisoners have been exchanged
but it remains a key bone of contention blocking reconciliation between
the two neighbours, which have yet to sign a peace treaty.
Iran charged after the last handover that Iraq was still holding 2,806
prisoners from the war.