Iraq has approved a request from Kuwait's Jazeera Airways to operate services to Baghdad and Najaf, more than 20 years after direct flights between the neighbours were halted, officials said on Thursday.

“We agreed yesterday to the request of the Kuwaiti Jazeera Airways company to [begin] flights from Kuwait to Iraq,” said Nasser Hussein Bandar, the head of Iraq's civil aviation authority. An adviser to Iraq's Transport Minister, confirmed that a deal was approved.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, after which flights between the Iraq and its small neighbour to the south were suspended.

During a visit by Iraqi Premier Nouri al-Maliki in mid-March, Kuwait agreed to a $500 million deal with Baghdad aimed at ending a decades-long debt dispute that saw an Iraqi Airways flight impounded in London.

According to Kuwait Airways, Iraq's flag carrier owes it $1.2 billion as a result of the 1990 invasion. Kuwait says 10 of its planes as well as aircraft parts were plundered after its airport was seized during the invasion.

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