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Kuwait, US agree roadmap for deepening partnership

WASHINGTON: Kuwait's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah (left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry are seen after the Kuwait-US Strategic Dialogue session late Friday. - KUNA
WASHINGTON: Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah (left) and US Secretary of State John Kerry are seen after the Kuwait-US Strategic Dialogue session late Friday. – KUNA

WASHINGTON: Kuwait and the United States have agreed, at the conclusion of the first Kuwait-US Strategic Dialogue, on a roadmap for deepening bilateral relations and partnerships in various domains. “The two sides recognize that today’s meeting was a comprehensive exchange that established a roadmap for deepening the Kuwait-US partnership in the coming years,” read the final statement of the meeting held in Washington on Friday.

The meeting, co-chaired by Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah and US Secretary of State John Kerry, discussed specific initiatives to enhance defense, security, economic, commercial, political, educational, scientific and consular cooperation, and established working groups to make progress in all these and other areas before the next Strategic Dialogue in Kuwait in 2017.

The US also commended Kuwait’s role in the war on terror worldwide, especially the operations against Daesh or the so-called Islamic State group. “US Secretary Kerry thanked (Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and) Foreign Minister (Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad) Al-Sabah for Kuwait’s help in the fight against Daesh and its leadership in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL,” read the final statement.

The statement also welcomed Kuwait joining the Netherlands and Turkey in co-chairing the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter working group. Both sides pledged to continue their efforts in countering violent extremism and in other security matters, such as cyberspace, and agreed to establish a working group to follow up and ensure continued progress.

“The United States and Kuwait undertook to bolster their security partnership – including but not limited to countering terrorism and terrorist financing, particularly through enhanced information sharing – and look forward to Kuwait’s chairing of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENA-FATF) in 2017,” read the statement.

The US also recommitted itself to the security and stability of Kuwait and the Gulf. “The United States is committed to Kuwait’s security, and to working with Kuwait to secure its homeland,” it stated. “The United States is prepared to work jointly with the GCC states, including Kuwait, to deter and confront an external threat to any GCC state’s territorial integrity that is inconsistent with the UN Charter.”

On military cooperation, both countries announced that they intend to build on a defense partnership that helps secure mutual national and regional interests. “The two sides tasked their teams with designing a mutual strategy to implement specific measures to enhance this partnership, and committed to continue their coordination through the US-Kuwait Joint Military Committee,” the statement disclosed.

On the economy, they have encouraged proposals to foster greater US business activity in Kuwait, increase investments by Kuwait in the United States and established a working group to make progress toward these goals. On education, the conferees argued that they see opportunities for further broadening and deepening people-to-people links through educational and scientific research cooperation. “The two sides established a joint working group and charged it with exploring ways to increase the number of exchange students, and devise specific means of expanding scientific research and technical cooperation,” noted the statement. The US government also extended an invitation to the Kuwaiti minister of education to visit the US and meet private sector organizations and institutions of higher education and research.

Moreover, the two sides reaffirmed the importance of prompt consular notification for citizens detained in either country. They reiterated their commitment to keeping each other appraised of consular-related matters, and committed to establishing a working group focused on consular issues. They also underscored the need for closer cooperation on customs and immigration matters.

The United States and Kuwait look forward to the signing of a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement before the end of 2016, which would allow greater information sharing, training and enforcement. “The working groups established at this meeting intend to consult regularly in order to make tangible progress for the peoples of both countries,” the statement emphasized.

Earlier, Kerry reiterated US’ commitment to maintaining Kuwait’s security and stability, and defend it against any foreign threats. During his meeting with his counterpart Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled at the Kuwait-US Strategic Dialogue, Kerry expressed satisfaction with the distinguished relations with Kuwait. He commended the special partnerships between the two countries in various domains.

The US top diplomat acclaimed Kuwait for its strenuous efforts to resolve regional crises, voicing admiration of Kuwait’s leading humanitarian role worldwide, especially in the conflict-ravaged countries of Syria, Yemen and Iraq. He said Kuwait has played a great role to alleviate the humanitarian suffering of people in need.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled lauded the strong relations between his country and the US, expressing hopes of the fulfillment of the aspirations of the two countries’ leaders and people to expand strategic partnerships in all fields and at all levels. – KUNA

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