US en­voy: Ties with Kuwait strong de­spite Trump win

Sil­ver­man wel­comes Kuwaitis to US, hails hu­man­i­tar­ian work

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

KUWAIT: US Am­bas­sador to Kuwait Lawrence Sil­ver­man as­sured re­la­tions be­tween Kuwait and the United States will re­main strong and strate­gic de­spite a change in ad­min­is­tra­tions. Sil­ver­man told re­porters Pres­i­dent-Elect Don­ald Trump is still craft­ing poli­cies for his new ad­min­is­tra­tion, and the at­ti­tude of US em­bassies world­wide is to “wait and watch”. “Bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are ex­tremely im­por­tant, rather than only fo­cus­ing on de­fense and se­cu­rity. The pres­i­dent-elect has met out­go­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, and they are briefed about lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional is­sues,” he said.

Many gov­ern­ments in the Gulf have voiced con­cern over Trump’s com­ments on im­mi­grants and Mus­lims, but Sil­ver­man stressed re­la­tions be­tween the US and Gulf coun­tries are ex­tremely im­por­tant. “We have two US-GCC sum­mits an­nu­ally, along with meet­ings and di­a­logues,” he said.

Sil­ver­man thanked the Kuwaiti peo­ple and HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Sabah for the warm wel­come ac­corded to him as the new US am­bas­sador to Kuwait. “It’s been a great two months in Kuwait and a great honor. Our work is a re­flec­tion of what Pres­i­dent Obama and HH the Amir want us to do, to make our ties even closer and ad­dress trade, po­lit­i­cal, ed­u­ca­tion and cul­tural is­sues. We want the Kuwaiti peo­ple to see the mu­tual ben­e­fits of what Kuwait and the US do, not only in de­fense and se­cu­rity, but for the greater se­cu­rity of the re­gion,” he added.

There are more than 30,000 Kuwaitis in the US, ac­cord­ing to Sil­ver­man, about half of whom are stu­dents. “We wel­come more Kuwaitis and we are very happy be­cause of their pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence in the US. They study in the US and come back to Kuwait to con­trib­ute to the so­ci­ety and econ­omy. I pre­sented my cre­den­tials to HH the Amir and met high-rank­ing of­fi­cials at the min­istry of for­eign af­fairs, de­fense, in­te­rior, ed­u­ca­tion, la­bor and in­for­ma­tion, and I ap­pre­ci­ate the co­op­er­a­tion I have with these of­fi­cials. We also had a few trade mis­sions in Kuwait this year on health, ed­u­ca­tion, se­cu­rity and safety,” he pointed out.

Sil­ver­man was asked about re­cent cases of Kuwaiti stu­dents ar­rested in the US for hav­ing videos and photos on their lap­tops and mo­biles that were deemed in­ap­pro­pri­ate. “Kuwait has around 15,000 stu­dents in the US, and a very tiny num­ber of stu­dents have ex­pe­ri­enced this problem,” he ex­plained. “These cases are be­ing high­lighted on so­cial media, but even Amer­i­can ci­ti­zens are ques­tioned by the au­thor­i­ties, and not just for­eign­ers. They are not be­ing ar­rested be­cause they are Kuwaitis, or be­cause they are Arabs or Mus­lims,” he em­pha­sized.

Sil­ver­man said a ma­jor­ity of these cases are re­lated to stu­dents who quit their stud­ies but do not change their sta­tus. “When you go back to Amer­ica and have not changed your sta­tus, you’ll be ques­tioned. If you are a stu­dent, please co­or­di­nate with your schools. If you have credit hours, you have to fol­low up - these are university reg­u­la­tions. The gov­ern­ment of Kuwait is mostly pay­ing their ex­penses, so when they send stu­dents abroad, they ex­pect them to study. So my ad­vice to Kuwaiti stu­dents is please change your sta­tus if you are no longer a stu­dent. If you have any is­sues, you have to in­form the university about it,” he ex­plained.

Sil­ver­man spoke about his meet­ing with HH the Amir dur­ing the open­ing of the new Jaber Al-Ah­mad Cul­tural Cen­ter. “It’s more than an opera house - it’s for the­ater, film and mu­sic. I un­der­stand it will be an ed­u­ca­tional cen­ter too. I was im­pressed as the build­ing it­self is sta­teof-the-art and a work of art. It will help put Kuwait on the global cul­tural map. It is very im­por­tant that we have cul­tural ex­changes,” he added.

The US en­voy also hailed Kuwait’s hu­man­i­tar­ian work, which he said has helped many peo­ple around the world. “I be­lieve Kuwait plays an im­por­tant role in hu­man­i­tar­ian work. Be­fore com­ing here as US am­bas­sador, I came three times as a US rep­re­sen­ta­tive, as Kuwait hosted many pledg­ing con­fer­ences for Syr­ian refugees and for coun­tries host­ing refugees. We re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate the Kuwaiti role. Kuwait also cospon­sored the refugee con­fer­ence in Lon­don, where HH the Amir was rec­og­nized, and the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral was there too. It re­flects the gen­eros­ity of the Kuwaiti peo­ple. It does make a dif­fer­ence,” he con­cluded.

KUWAIT: US Am­bas­sador to Kuwait Lawrence Sil­ver­man speaks to re­porters at the US Em­bassy in Bayan. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat By Ben Gar­cia

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