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Iraq hands over remains of Kuwaitis missing since 1991

SAFWAN, Iraq — Iraq on Thursday handed over to Kuwait the remains of 48 of its citizens who went missing after Saddam Hussein's invasion of the country 28 years ago and subsequent Gulf War.

Kuwait says hundreds of people went missing during Iraq's seven-month occupation, and the issue has remained a sticking point between the two countries.

The remains, which were put in caskets and wrapped in Kuwaiti flags, were handed over to Kuwaiti authorities at the Safwan border crossing at a ceremony attended by officials from the two neighboring countries.

"The Iraqi government is determined to find all the remaining missing Kuwaitis (in Iraq) and hand them over to the Kuwaiti authorities and consequently to their families," said Maj. Gen. Hazim Qassim, a representative of the Iraqi Defense Ministry.

Kuwait's national news agency confirmed the Gulf state on Thursday received human remains said to belong to slain Kuwaiti prisoners of war pending forensic examination locally.

The remains were found in March at a mass grave in the desert west of the city of Samawa south of Baghdad.

Iraq and Kuwait resumed diplomatic relations after former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was ousted from power in 2003 in the U.S. led-invasion of Iraq. He was executed three years later after he was sentenced to death by hanging for crimes against humanity.