Iraq recognized Kuwait Thursday and promised to respect its new U.N.-defined borders.

A statement signed by President Saddam Hussein as chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council laid to rest Iraq's longstanding claim to Kuwait as its 19th province.By accepting the border drawn by a U.N. commission it also met one of the cease-fire terms Baghdad accepted after its forces, which conquered the emirate in a lightning invasion in August 1990, were driven out by a U.S.-led alliance in February 1991.

In Washington the White House said Iraq's recognition of Kuwait must be in "practice as well as in words."

"If that is, in effect, true in practice as well as in words, that is positive," White House spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers said. "But there are a number of other elements in U.N. resolutions that Iraq must adhere to before we can even discuss lifting sanctions."

The RCC statement was released shortly after the National Assembly passed a similar resolution.

"The Republic of Iraq recognizes the sovereignty of the State of Kuwait, its territorial integrity and political independence," the statement said.

It said Iraq also "recognizes the international boundary between the Republic of Iraq and the State of Kuwait as demarcated by the United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Boundary Demarcation Commission . . . and respects the inviolability of the said boundary."

Recognition of the border is a vital step before Iraq can win U.N. Security Council permission to resume exports from its vast oil reserves and release its economy from crippling, four-year-old trade sanctions.

Russia, successor of Iraq's former superpower ally the Soviet Union, helped broker a settlement during Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz's visit to Moscow this week and has become the Security Council's leading advocate of lifting sanctions.