Kuwait's Amir, Trump renew ties amid new hopes of end to Qatar deadlock
US President applauded Kuwait’s “critical contributions to regional stability”
Edited by the (Middle East Times Int'l)
)Translation of this article appears in Arabic section(
HIS Highness the Kuwait's Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, accompanied by National Guard Deputy Chief Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, met US President Donald Trump at the White House during his visit to the US. Their talks at the Oval Office dealt with the long-standing historical relations between the countries and the two friendly peoples, and means to develop ties and strengthen co-operation in all fields. They also discussed issues of common interest and the latest developments on the regional and international spectrums, particularly the Gulf and the Middle East. Both senior officials stressed the need for the countries involved in the Gulf feud to discard their differences, unite and support international efforts to combat terrorism. A delegation of Kuwait businessmen also met with their American counterpart to discuss greater investment and development.
His Highness the Kuwait's Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said his talks with US President Donald Trump reflected the political, economic, military and security relationship between both countries.
In a speech at the White House, he said discussions with the president were "in-depth and comprehensive" and covered the Gulf feud, the war on terror, the situations in Syria, Yemen, Libya and Myanmar and Palestinian affairs.
The meeting "reflected the depth of our historic and developed bilateral relations," in the benefit of the two countries, said His Highness, as he hailed US commitment to the security of Kuwait.
His Highness said he appreciated the US role in leading an international coalition of allied forces to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation in 1991.
He discussed Kuwait's efforts to resolve the "unfortunate" dispute between Qatar and four Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.
President Donald Trump has hailed efforts by the Amir of Kuwait, a staunch American ally, to mediate a festering diplomatic crisis involving Qatar and its Arab neighbors that could have implications for the US military presence in the region.
At a White House news conference with Kuwait Amir, Trump applauded Kuwait’s “critical contributions to regional stability”.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia suspended any dialogue with Qatar, accusing it of distorting facts soon after a phone call between the rulers of both countries offered hope of a breakthrough in the three-month-old Gulf crisis. Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani spoke to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to express interest in talks, state media from both sides said, in the first public engagement between the leaders after the US president offered to mediate in the crisis.
President Trump expressed confidence in the "wisdom of our brothers in the Gulf," particularly taking into account other regional developments in Syria, Iraq and Libya.
Hopes to resolve the Gulf dispute were still open and "have not yet ended," he highlighted.
A response he had received by Qatar revealed that Doha would not accept the 13 demands, he said, adding that the solution was for all sides to sit down at one negotiating table, and outline "points that may harm the region and the interests of our friends." On the demands, he said that "any matters that affect sovereignty are unacceptable to us," underlining that Kuwait guarantees it would put pressure on Qatar amid efforts to prevent its exit from the GCC.
Separately, His Highness the Kuwait Amir praised US commitment to the security and protection of Kuwait.
In response to a reporter’s question, Trump briefly spoke about his administration’s efforts to restart long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Trump plans to meet both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly later this month. “I think we have a chance of doing it,” he said. “I think the Palestinians would like to see it happen, I think the Israelis would like to see it happen.”
US and Kuwait renewed their commitments to promoting stability and security during the second round of their annual Strategic Dialogue. The meeting was co-chaired by US Secretary of State Rex W Tillerson and Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. In a joint statement, the two sides discussed specific areas of cooperation and charted a roadmap for the bilateral relations for the coming year.
Top US and Kuwaiti officials renewed partnership agreements on defense, security, trade, investment, education, consular, customs, and border protection issues. In particular, both sides recommitted to promoting stability and security in the Gulf region and the broader Middle East, including targeting ISIS and other violent extremists, according to the statement released by the State department.
The United States and Kuwait headed political talks on several topics including tensions between Qatar and GCC nations, with Tillerson expressing gratitude to Kuwait’s efforts to ease escalating tensions between Qatar and other GCC countries. “Our two countries share the view of the importance of GCC unity in addressing the region’s many challenges,” said the Secretary of State. Tillerson praised Kuwait’s extensive humanitarian efforts in some of the world’s most troubled areas and its direct assistance to the internally- displaced and refugees in the region.
He expressed US appreciation for Kuwait’s offer to host a donors’ conference for Iraqi reconstruction in 2018. US and Kuwait agreed to work closely on defense cooperation in the meeting. An agreement was reached to enhance the defensive capabilities of Armed Forces of Kuwait. The US agreed to help expedite the acquisition of US military equipment, including that sale of its F/A-18 Super Hornet, a supersonic combat jet, to Kuwait’s Air Force.
Defence ties commemorated
US Secretary of Defence James Mattis met at the Pentagon with Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Sheikh Mohammed Khaled Al-Sabah during which he affirmed that the US and Kuwait share a "meaningful history of security cooperation and understanding". Mattis said that since "the intervention to oust Saddam Hussein's army from your sovereign territory in 1991, our countries have maintained a highly productive military relationship". He "fondly" recalled the 50 Kuwaiti soldiers "who served bravely in my marine infantry battalion when we went into the minefields together" and that "Kuwait provided valuable support to the US then, even while your country was occupied, and every year since".
Mattis affirmed "now our militaries remain bonded by shared security concerns," and that "regional stability will be strengthened by Kuwait's robust commitment to fighting terrorism that you have always shown."
Mattis noted that in light of the common counter terrorism cause, the two countries maintain a very close military relationship that includes joint training and exchange programs "focused on enhancing counterterrorism at the local unit level." "In addition, we appreciate greatly (His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah's) leadership and tireless efforts to mediate the recent rift between Qatar and other countries of the GCC," he remarked.
For his part, Sheikh Mohammed affirmed that the relations between the two countries are "solid and strong" and that the relations are now more stronger and deeper especially after the meeting between US President Donald Trump and His Highness the Amir.
"I would like to address a very important point which is the very important role you (Mattis) played during the liberation of Kuwait... Most of the people of Kuwait know and are aware of your love for Kuwait and for the positions you have taken," he remarked.
As to terrorism, Sheikh Mohammed stressed "this is a threat that covers us both. We are both threatened by it, the US and Kuwait. Therefore, it is very important that we co-operate in this regard."
Customs deal reached
A US-Kuwait Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) was signed along with a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Technical Cooperation between the two countries.
Jamal Al Jalawi, director general of Kuwait General Administration of Customs, said the agreement was "very important" to Kuwait, and would provide for better US-Kuwait cooperation to improve efforts to deal with money laundering, co-ordinating investigations of security crime including protecting intellectual property rights and other areas of mutual concern.
Kevin McAleenan, acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, said US officials were "enthusiastic about the potential" the agreement provides to "deepen" US-Kuwait customs co-operation.
"Customs and Mutual Assistance Agreements allow for the exchange of information that is vital to our national and economic security," McAleenan said. "We value our partnership with Kuwait in pursuing our mutual goals of stronger law enforcement and a more resilient and secure supply chain." "These agreements form sound legal frameworks on a wide range of issues, including securing our borders against terrorists and combating drug traffickers," he said. "This collaboration and co-operation will enable us -- and generations after us-- to work more effectively to prevent, detect and investigate customs offenses." Al Jalawi said Kuwait "looks forward to co-operation" on the issue, adding, "We hope that we will gain from the CMAA as we did with the MOU."
US Customs office
Kuwait has asked that a US Customs office be opened at its new airport for Kuwaitis wanting to travel to the US, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) chief said.
The request was made during talks between DGCA President Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Hamoud Al-Sabah and US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials.
Kuwait will also host several visiting US delegations specializing in aviation security in order to benefit from technology capabilities, equipment and expertise the US possesses, Sheikh Salman said.
Kuwait's 2035 vision launched by H.H the Amir provided a perfect opportunity for foreign investors, namely from the US
"Both sides were eager to develop ties at many levels, especially within the economic, financial, and commercial domains"- Deputy PM and Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh
Edited by the (Middle East Times Int'l)
)Translation of this article appears in Arabic section(
A number of Kuwaiti business personnel and top officials have affirmed the importance of the US-Kuwait Economic Forum.
The forum, at the US Chamber of Commerce, has resulted in the signing of several agreements between the Kuwaiti and US sides.
The Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and DOW Chemical Company (DOW) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint co-operation in the petrochemical industry and joint investment in the US in addition to exploring the establishment of petrochemical research and technology centres in Kuwait and the US.
The Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and Water and General Electric signed an agreement to upgrade and increase the capability of power stations in Kuwait, in addition to reducing gas emissions and develop Kuwaiti qualifications.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh said both sides were eager to develop ties at many levels, especially within the economic, financial, and commercial domains.
He stressed that the forum saw a huge turnout, which is reflective of the strong relations linking the two countries.
The event also came in line with the Kuwaiti leadership's efforts to transform Kuwait into a regional and international business and financial center, said Al-Saleh.
Director General of Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) Sheikh Dr. Meshal Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said that the forum focused on the roles of investments and economy in developing US-Kuwaiti relations within the private sector.
Business personnel who flocked to the event are well aware of the vitality of the forum, said Sheikh Meshal who indicated that Kuwait was eager to diversify its income through mutual investments with American companies and business personnel.
On their parts, top officials at Zain Group, Kuwait Industrial Union (KIU), and the Commercial Real Estate Company -- Bader Al-Kharafi, Hussein Al-Kharafi, and Abdulfattah Marafi respectively -- stressed the importance of attracting foreign investment to Kuwait, saying that it will immensely contribute to the country's development plans.
His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah's visit to the US and organising of the forum displayed both nations eagerness to pursue more venues of co-operation, affirmed the officials.
They added that Kuwait's 2035 vision launched by His Highness the Amir provided a perfect opportunity for foreign investors, namely from the US, to seek business ventures in Kuwait which will benefit both nations' economies. Kuwaiti business personnel also felt welcomed by their US peers to invest in America, the officials affirmed.
HH Amir Sheikh Sabah also received at his residence in Washington D.C. a delegation of Kuwaiti business personnel. During the meeting, HH the Amir stressed the importance of a viable and attractive business atmosphere in Kuwait to attract investment and commerce.
His Highness lauded the group for their efforts to bring investments to Kuwait, affirming that they are an essential part of Kuwait's development.
Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) member and head of the Kuwaiti businessmen delegation Osama Al-Nesf lauded HH the Amir and Kuwaiti leadership for its keen efforts to develop Kuwait's economy and financial status. He affirmed that Kuwaiti business personnel will heed the calls by the Kuwaiti leadership.
Investor interest grows
In the last 20 years, the Kuwait Investment Authority's (KIA) investments in the US have grown by nearly 20 times and Kuwait hopes to see its US-based investments grow 20-fold in the coming two decades, especially in US infrastructure, real estate and real estate development and financing, Kuwait's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh told the US-Kuwait Economic Forum.
"Today, the US is KIA's most important investment destination, and the largest with over 50 percent of our investments deployed here," Al-Saleh said. "We have over $400 billion invested in the US economy across all asset classes, industries and sectors." This excludes the substantial investments made by Kuwait's private sector, he noted.
The "unbreakable bond" between the US and Kuwait "was earned by both sides over decades of hard work by those who preceded us, from policy makers to business professionals" -- a bond built on shared business, social, diplomatic and political interests, Al-Saleh said.
Kuwait recently launched a "one-stop shop" for foreign investors and companies who wish to establish 100 percent-owned entities in Kuwait, he said. The Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) was recognised by the US State Department in its 2017 report titled "Investment Climate in Kuwait," he noted.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross noted the "strong military-to-military partnership and strong trade ties" between the US and Kuwait, including one of "the most important security relationships" in the world. Merchandise trade between the countries is on track to set a new record this year, he said.
The Kuwait government is working to streamline registration and licensing procedures for new businesses, and the immediate outlook for the Kuwait economy is strong, but it is important for Kuwait to diversify, he said. Ross also said he would encourage Kuwait to ratify the World Trade Organisation trade facilitation agreement.
Osamah Al-Nisf, from the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said during his opening remarks that the Kuwaiti private sector "looks with satisfaction and confidence toward the diversification, privatisation and reform plan".
For 30 years and more, the US was among the top three of Kuwait's trading partners, and has been the most important destination for Kuwaiti investment, he said.
The US "will remain the primary haven for Kuwaiti foreign investments" so that "Kuwait will become your first gateway to the Gulf area and beyond", Al-Nisf said.
The turnout from the US private sector at the forum was vast with a very positive interaction from their part wanting to know more about investment opportunities in Kuwait.
For their part, several American private sector representatives praised the measures taken by the Kuwaiti government to encourage foreign investors, particularly the "One Window" project recently launched by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry Board Member Osama Al-Nisf said that a trade delegation that accompanied HH the Amir during his US visit was keen to showcase opportunities to US investors.
The delegation took the opportunity to promote joint ventures between the countries as Kuwait seeks to implement its recently-sanctioned strategic development plans, he said.
Kuwait Industries Union Deputy Chairman Ahmad Al-Gudhaibi said that the visit provided the chance to consolidate economic and industrial relations and to transfer exceptional US technology know-how to the Kuwaiti market.
KIU looks forward to forming strategic US partnerships that contribute more significantly to the Kuwaiti economy, thus contributing to its GDP, amid the country's development plans, he said.
Meeting with students
HH Amir Sheikh Sabah was also visited by Kuwaiti students studying in the US. During the meeting, in the presence of Deputy Chief of the Kuwait National Guard (KNG) Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Amir affirmed that Kuwaiti will hugely benefit from the students' knowledge once they return to the country.
HH the Amir’s endless support for education in Kuwait invokes a sense of pride among Kuwaiti students locally and abroad, the students said.
The students said that they were honored to meet HH Amir Sheikh Sabah.
Lina Najem, a student at Yale University, said that education in the US was a great opportunity for her to develop her academic skills. Najem affirmed that once she returns to Kuwait she would use her experience to help in the country's development.
Meanwhile, Kuwaiti students at the University of Southern California thanked HH the Amir for showing his commitment to education, stressing that attending the reception held by Kuwait's highest authority figure was reflective of the Amir’s care for Kuwait and its people.
Echoing similar statements, students from the Universities of Pennsylvania, Boston, and California expressed strong desires to contribute to Kuwait's welfare once they return home. They said that this resolve came after they met with His Highness.