But the struggling Iraqi premier was hoping to do just that as he ended a two-day visit to this small oil-rich state, with appeals to Kuwaiti leaders and statements to editors of local dailies that he hoped their parliament was going to be “generous” and write off some of the debt.
Al Maliki said he believed Kuwait was “no less generous” than fellow Gulf country Saudi Arabia, which was writing off 80 percent of a similar sum in debts. But Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, has no legislature.
Kuwait, a constitutional democracy with a ruling royal family, cannot make such a decision without consent from its elected parliament
For seven months starting Aug. 2, 1990, Saddam's occupying forces rounded up Kuwaitis, executed them at the doorsteps of their houses, changed names of neighbourhoods, hospitals and ports, and blew up some 700 oil wells.
Most of the $15 billion was extended to Saddam Hussein to finance his 1980-1988 war with Iran. The former Iraqi leader was considered a hero by many in Kuwait, until he shocked the nation when he turned his guns on it and accused it of stealing Iraqi oil from border wells.
Cancellation of Iraqi debts is expected to figure high on the agenda of the May 3-4 international conferences on Iraq at Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm Al Sheik.
The United States has been strongly pushing other debtor countries of Iraq to follow its lead and write off their shares of Iraq's debts, as one way of helping the country get on its feet financially.