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Government says no secret clause in neutral zone pact

KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and Deputy Prime Minister, Interior Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh attend yesterday’s parliament session. – Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: The government told the National Assembly that Kuwait has not made any territorial concessions in striking a new border pact with neighboring Saudi Arabia in the divided zone, denying that the deal includes any secret clauses. Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Sabah told the assembly that the agreement guarantees complete sovereignty of each country on its side of the divided zone and also guarantees their full share of resources.

The minister said that the agreement does not have any secret clauses and stipulate any new border demarcation but it confirmed the previous demarcation and made things very clear. Oil Minister Khaled Al-Fadhel said Kuwait has not conceded any of its rights and there is no loss in revenue from oil, adding that the agreement regulates investments and exploration in the offshore Durra gas-field and other maritime operations.

The agreement stipulates that Saudi Chevron will vacate its offices in Al-Zour within the next five years, adding that the Al-Zour Port is fully under Kuwait’s control and is utilized by the joint operations like the Saudi Khafji Port. He also denied reports that Kuwait will pay $90 billion in compensation to Chevron.

Almost all MPs who spoke welcomed the agreement, saying it fairly serves the national interests of the two nations. They also praised Kuwait’s government negotiating team for making this “historical” achievement.

Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem said that in March last year, he and a group of lawmakers visited Saudi Arabia and met with the king and the crown prince and discussed the issue. The assembly then agreed to send the agreement to its foreign relations committee for reviewing it and submitting a report in order to be ratified. The assembly then moved into closed doors to debate the current regional developments.

Traffic law discussion

In another discussion in the assembly, lawmakers asked for more stringent rules for issuing driver’s licenses to expatriates in a bid to encourage them to use public transport, which effectively means making it even harder for foreigners to get a driver’s license in Kuwait.

The recommendation came at the end of a passionate debate of “traffic chaos” in the country during which MPs blamed the government, bad roads and reckless driving but still wanted fewer expatriates getting a driver’s license.

Tough rules are already in place for expatriates to be able to drive which include high pay, a university degree, being one of a number of elite groups like judges, doctors, engineers, journalists and a like, in addition to having spent at least two years of legal residence in the country.

Interior ministry officials present in the session said that Kuwaitis have 640,000 licenses against 765,000 for expats. The officials said that around 100 expatriates were deported from the country for flagrant traffic offenses in the past two years, including 77 in 2019.

MPs harshly criticized the interior ministry for failing to organize traffic on the roads and applying the traffic law strictly to prevent what some lawmakers described as a “street war” on roads that result in the death of more than 600 people every year.

Other recommendations approved by the lawmakers included a call on the government to present a new and modern traffic law, amending the penal code to increase penalty for killing in traffic accidents and changing working hours so as to reduce traffic jams.

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