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A top Iraqi official has told a Swedish newspaper that the 1990 invasion of Kuwait was a serious mistake.

The remarkable statement by Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam Hussein's half-brother and head of Iraq's U.N. mission in Geneva, came in an exclusive interview published Sunday by Svenska Dagbladet. It was the first time a high-level official has admitted publicly that the invasion was a mistake."It's regrettable that Iraq invaded Kuwait," al-Tikriti said. "I wish it would not have happened since the consequences have been terrible for the Iraqi people."

Al-Tikriti expressed frustration over U.S. unwillingness to talk to Iraq, which last month officially recognized Kuwait's borders and independence.

"They refuse to see us, but the United States is willing to meet with dictators like North Korea's," he said.

"We do everything we can to put things right again. The United States and Iraq cannot continue to be enemies, we need each other."

Al-Tikriti is the youngest of Saddam's three half-brothers from his mother's second marriage. His father is a brother of Saddam's father.

"It is time for the United States and Iraq to normalize relations," he said in the interview. "We want to have an open and honest dialogue with the Americans. . . . There is no longer need for tough sanctions."

The United States has led opposition to the lifting of U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990.

Barzan has been shunned by the diplomatic community in Geneva, which considers him little more than a thug dressed as a diplomat. He once beat up his chauffeur at a diplomatic reception when the man was late picking Barzan up.