At a remote spot in the Saudi desert Monday, Austrian gold experts led a U.N. team overseeing the return of Kuwaiti gold bricks looted by Iraq during its seven-month occupation of the emirate.
The process was time-consuming because experts were weighing each of the 3,216 gold bars and testing them for purity. The bars had been trucked overland from Baghdad to Arar, a Saudi town on the Iraqi border.
Ten representatives each from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait monitored the transfer, along with a 23-member U.N. team that included two Austrian experts, stevedores, packers and guards.
“Everything is going on fine,” said a U.N. official.
Iraq also has agreed to return Kuwaiti currency taken during the occupation. But the currency now is worthless. The old bank notes were canceled by the Kuwaiti government during its exile in Saudi Arabia, and new Kuwaiti bank notes were issued after Kuwait’s liberation by allied forces in late February.