Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and his Egyptian counterpart Mohammad Kamel Amr signed here Sunday evening an agreement under which Iraq will transfer to Egypt the pay arrears of Egyptian expatriates amounting to USD 408 million, some 2.5 billion Egyptian pounds.
The deal put an end to a prolonged dispute, dubbed as "the yellow transfers" that dates from the pre-Iraq war era; it concerns up to 670,000 Egyptian former workers in Iraq.
Addressing a joint press conference with his host, Zebari said: "These funds should have been transferred to Egypt two years ago but the situations in Egypt led to the delay." "The development of the situations in Egypt resulted in today's deal," he said, affirming the commitment of his government to all the previously signed agreements.
As for the dues of Egyptian companies, Zebari said negotiations will start soon, adding that through today's agreement Iraq "sends friendly message to the Egyptian people." "The two countries maintain close ties in the areas of investment and defense cooperation," the minister said, welcoming the Egyptian, and the other Arab, companies, willing to invest in his country.
As for the coming Arab Summit, he added that the stage is fully set for it and the Iraqi government have made all necessary preparations to ensure the success of the event, due in Baghdad on March 29.
On his part, Amr hailed the deal as conducive to the two countries' joint strategy for cooperation on the bilateral level and the regional Arab level.
"This ambitious strategy will bear fruit in the near future and will be in the interest of the entire Arab world," the Egyptian minister pointed out.