KUWAIT: Kuwait and India have decided to establish a joint commission co-chaired by the foreign ministers of the two countries in order to strengthen their deep-rooted bilateral relations in various sectors. The decision was part of a joint statement issued at the end of Kuwait’s Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah’s brief visit to New Delhi on March 17 and 18. Sheikh Dr Ahmad held talks with India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and reviewed all aspects of bilateral relations. He also discussed regional developments with Jaishankar before leaving for Pakistan.
To be held on a regular basis, the joint commission will be tasked with formulating the required basis to strengthen the relations between the two countries, particularly in the fields of energy, trade, economy, investment, human resources, manpower and labor, finance, skills, culture, science and technology, information technology, health, education, defense and security, the joint statement said. The commission will also review agreements concluded between the two countries and find suitable solutions for any issues in their implementation.
India is among the largest trading partners of Kuwait and bilateral trade was worth $10.86 billion during 2019-20. India’s imports, mainly oil, were worth $9.6 billion during this period. Kuwait was the 10th largest oil supplier to India during 2019-20 and met 3.8 percent of India’s energy needs. Kuwait is also home to nearly one million Indian expatriates.
The joint commission will act as an umbrella for all bilateral institutional engagements such as foreign office consultations and joint working groups. Apart from existing working groups on hydrocarbons, manpower and mobility, and healthcare, new groups will be created on trade and investment, defense and security, and maritime cooperation, the statement said.
The meeting was attended by Kuwait’s Assistant Foreign Minister for Asian Affairs Ali Al-Saeed, Kuwait Ambassador to India Jassem Al-Najem, Ministry of Health Assistant Undersecretary for Medicines and Medical Supplies Dr Abdullah Al-Qanae and Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for the Foreign Minister’s Office Ahmad Al-Shuraim. During his visit, Sheikh Dr Ahmad handed over a letter from His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to KUNA.
According to media reports, Sheikh Dr Ahmad lauded India for standing by Kuwait in its “darkest moments and in our direst time,” including the provision of medical aid at the peak of the pandemic last year. He singled out the “white army of Indian nationals” – or nurses and doctors – who were “combating COVID-19 alongside Kuwaitis.” India had deployed a 15-member medical rapid response team to Kuwait last April to help in testing and treating infected people. Jaishankar, in turn, thanked the Kuwaiti government for taking care of the large Indian community during the pandemic. He hoped that the Indian community will be able to resume travel to Kuwait in large numbers soon.