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Amir starts official visit to Turkey today

ANKARA: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is pictured with the former Turkish president Abdullah Gul during a previous visit to Turkey. — KUNA

KUWAIT/ANKARA: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will start an official visit to Turkey today. During his visit, His Highness the Amir will hold talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over efforts to boost bilateral relations and cooperation in various domains.

His Highness the Amir’s visit to Turkey is the second in less than a year as he led Kuwait’s delegation to the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in May 2016. The Turkish President also paid a state visit to Kuwait in April 2015. The repeated visits and meetings between the two leaders showed the remarkable and accelerated progress in relations between the two friendly countries over the past years.

Difficult times
The strength of the ties was reflected clearly in difficult times. Thus, when the foiled coup attempt was carried out in July 2016, Kuwait was one of the first countries to express support to the Turkish government and people. His Highness the Amir sent a cable to President Erdogan to congratulate him on the failure of the coup attempt and the victory of democracy and will of Turkish people.  The Kuwaiti-Turkish relations are not new but deeply-rooted. The State of Kuwait had initiated its diplomatic ties with Turkey in 1969 where the first diplomatic relations between the two countries were established through coordination with the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Beirut and then moved to the Embassy of Turkey in Kuwait which was opened in 1971.

Kuwaiti-Turkish relations have been characterized by mutual respect over time, but have developed rapidly after the supportive stance taken by Turkey in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, in addition to its contribution along with the coalition forces in the liberation of Kuwait, and putting its military bases at the disposal of the coalition forces to oversee the monitoring of the no-fly zone in northern Iraq.

Since the first hours of the Iraqi invasion, Turkey had condemned this barbaric act and considered it an act of aggression and assault on international law and the principle of international legitimacy, and declared its solidarity with Kuwait to demand the return of sovereignty and independence to it.

After liberation of Kuwait, His Highness the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah visited Turkey in November 1991 and expressed the appreciation of Kuwait and personal gratitude for Turkey’s stance towards the Iraqi invasion and its solidarity with the just right of Kuwait.

His Highness Sheikh Jaber had said during the visit that the Turkish people had culminated the close and well-established ties binding the two countries for many years and opened a new chapter in the constructive and fruitful cooperation for the best interest of both peoples. After that, visits between the two sides had continued at various levels and many agreements were signed in a number of areas.

In 2008, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad paid his first visit to Turkey.  During this visit, seven agreements were signed for beefing up mutual cooperation in various domains including economy, science, arts, manpower, and health. Moreover, a joint ministerial committee for cooperation was formed.  In 2013, His Highness the Amir visited Turkey again and during his visit eight agreements of cooperation in the domains of diplomacy, civil aviation, air transport, higher education and scientific research, health, animal resources, defense industries, and culture and artistic were inked. Both sides also agreed on entry-visa exemption for diplomatic and special passport holders.

In 2014, then Turkish president Abdullah Gul visited Kuwait and his visit witnessed the signing of several agreements for military training and marine transport cooperation.  The two countries hammered out two protocols for cooperation in the fields of media and journalism and manuscripts. Moreover, both sides have signed a memorandum of understanding for military training and joint maneuvers, and an agreement for supplying a Turkish refinery with Kuwaiti crude.

Economic cooperation between Kuwait and Turkey have been evolving quickly in the past years. The Kuwait Investment Authority has huge investments in real estate, shopping centers, banking sector, stock markets and air transport in Turkey.  In 2015, official statistics estimated Kuwaiti investments in Turkey at $5 billion.

Furthermore, Kuwaitis ranked third on the list of foreign investors in Turkish real estate sector, according to an official report issued in January 2017.  Turkey imports plastic and chemical materials from Kuwait and exports foodstuff, carpets, jewelry, vehicles, steel, medicine, construction materials to Kuwait.

Turkey is one of top tourist destinations for Kuwaiti travelers. The number of Kuwaiti visitors to Turkey jumped from 20,000 in 2010 to 70,000 in 2014.  Trade exchange surged from $700 million to over $2 billion.

Landmark visit
His Highness the Amir’s landmark visit to Turkey will crown our brotherly relations, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ambassador Ibrahim Kalin said yesterday. He added that the visit is taking place at a time when the entire region is confronted with grave challenges like terrorism and armed conflicts will offer an opportunity to exchange views on how best we can address them.  The two countries enjoy very close partnership in various fields including trade, investments, tourism and military cooperation share a common will to develop their relations even further. I believe that the visit by His Highness will be very fruitful in that respect. The agreements to be signed during the visit on a wide range of areas are manifestation of our close partnership and will open up new avenues of cooperation, Kalin added. – KUNA

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