ROME: Iraq has asked Italy to return the €90 million ($108.53 million) Saddam Hussein’s regime paid to Italian companies to purchase military equipment that was never delivered because of the 1991 embargo on the sale of arms to Iraq.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio in Rome on Wednesday and explained the money was paid to Italian aerospace and defense company Leonardo and the Fincantieri shipyard.
“There are 60 million euros frozen in Italian banks, plus interest, and 30 million more in current accounts of the embassy and other employees. It is our right to recover that amount, and we have no intention of giving up on this,” Hussein told press after the meeting.
He added that the release of those sums will “facilitate, improve and increase the relaunch of bilateral relations” between Iraq and Italy.
“Foreign Minister Di Maio has promised to engage in the issue,” he explained, but said it is yet to be decided whether Italy will deliver the purchased equipment or unlock the frozen accounts.
Sources in the Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed to Arab News that negotiations between the two countries are underway “to resolve the situation for the best.”
During his meeting with Di Maio at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hussein also thanked Italy for its help as a member of the international coalition against Daesh.
“I take this opportunity to thank the Italian people, government and institutions for this,” he said.
Italy has provided weapons and training to Kurdish anti-Daesh militias in Erbil for over 10 years. A particularly intense training job has been carried out in Kurdistan by the Carabinieri, the Italian Military Police.
“Thanks to the fundamental Italian contribution to our security forces, Iraq continues to fight those Daesh cells which are still active in the country,” Hussein told Italian daily newspaper la Repubblica.