Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter lauds Kuwait’s hu­man­i­tar­ian work

Kuwait Times - - Local - By Ben Gar­cia

KUWAIT: Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop wrapped up her visit yes­ter­day and thanked Kuwait for its sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to hu­man­i­tar­ian work and its spe­cial role in re­build­ing Iraq. Bishop met sev­eral of­fi­cials here, in­clud­ing Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and For­eign Min­is­ter Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. She said they had very pos­i­tive dis­cus­sions on var­i­ous is­sues and op­por­tu­ni­ties for greater en­gage­ment be­tween Aus­tralia and Kuwait, par­tic­u­larly in trade and in­vest­ment.

“While we are quite far ge­o­graph­i­cally, after ar­riv­ing here, it takes only a mo­ment to re­al­ize that we have amaz­ing syn­er­gies be­tween our economies,” she said. “There are sig­nif­i­cant Kuwaiti in­vest­ments in Aus­tralia in two sec­tors; liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas (LNG) and elec­tric­ity. We see more op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­vest­ments in Aus­tralia; like­wise, op­por­tu­ni­ties for Aus­tralian com­pa­nies in Kuwait. We have sev­eral Aus­tralian com­pa­nies

here. Ed­u­ca­tional co­op­er­a­tion is an­other im­por­tant area with great po­ten­tials. Many Kuwaiti stu­dents are study­ing in Aus­tralia, and we would love to see more,” Bishop said.

“We also dis­cussed tourism, and en­cour­age more Kuwaitis to visit Aus­tralia and Aus­tralians to come to Kuwait. We dis­cussed agri­cul­ture and see the po­ten­tial for im­prove­ment. Over­all, there were very pos­i­tive meet­ings and op­por­tu­ni­ties for both coun­tries,” she em­pha­sized. Bishop said Kuwait-Aus­tralia bi­lat­eral re­la­tions are excellent and strong, and lauded the coun­try for its suc­cess­ful host­ing of the con­fer­ence of the global coali­tion to fight IS. “We dis­cussed coun­tert­er­ror­ism is­sues too - Kuwait is an im­por­tant part of the Gulf, and we see in­creas­ing Aus­tralian en­gage­ments with Kuwait,” she noted.

Lead­er­ship role

Bishop hailed Kuwait’s hu­man­i­tar­ian role, say­ing it has al­ways been a leader in many fields, stress­ing the im­por­tance of Kuwait in the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC). “I would like to see our re­la­tion­ship deepen,” she said. The min­is­ters signed a me­moran­dum of un­der­stand­ing to es­tab­lish reg­u­lar meet­ings be­tween the of­fi­cials, and Bishop in­vited her Kuwaiti coun­ter­part to visit Aus­tralia soon. “One of our mil­i­tary gen­er­als vis­ited Kuwait, and a trade min­is­ter from Aus­tralia vis­ited Kuwait in 2015,” she noted.

With re­gards to the role of Aus­tralia in de­feat­ing the Is­lamic State (IS), Bishop un­der­lined Aus­tralia’s ac­tive

con­tri­bu­tion in the ef­forts to an­ni­hi­late IS since 2014. Bishop said Aus­tralia has been part of train­ing mis­sions for Iraqi troops. “We have made a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to de­feat Daesh. Aus­tralia has trained more than 30,000 Iraqi se­cu­rity forces, and our hu­man­i­tar­ian con­tri­bu­tion is now worth $180 mil­lion. We have taken part in sev­eral mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions and airstrikes. Aus­tralian air­planes have flown over 2,700 sor­ties over Iraq and Syria, and we have on­go­ing mil­i­tary train­ings. We have around 300 mil­i­tary per­son­nel and 80 more ex­perts in­volved in coun­tert­er­ror­ism train­ing,” she revealed.

Bishop also men­tioned that Aus­tralia is part of the coali­tion of na­tions com­mit­ted to re­build­ing Iraq that has been dev­as­tated by war. “We have com­mit­ted con­sid­er­able funds to re­build­ing Iraq,” she said. Aus­tralia sees Kuwait as hav­ing size­able po­ten­tials for fur­ther in­vest­ment for Aus­tralian com­pa­nies. “We would like to see more Aus­tralian in­vest­ments in Kuwait. We are in­volved in in­fra­struc­ture projects in many parts of the world. We have Aus­tralian in­ter­na­tional banks and com­pa­nies in­vest­ing glob­ally; we are an en­ergy pow­er­house; we have ex­per­tise in agri­cul­ture and tech­nol­ogy; we are very in­no­va­tive econ­omy. Aus­tralia is now in the 27th con­sec­u­tive year of un­in­ter­rupted eco­nomic growth, so the best place to in­vest for Kuwaiti com­pa­nies is Aus­tralia,” Bishop pointed out.

She also men­tioned the grow­ing num­ber of air­lines with direct flights/links to Aus­tralia. “Con­nec­tiv­ity is of vi­tal im­por­tance if we are talk­ing about the tourism sec­tor. There are more air­lines now com­ing from the Mid­dle East - we have daily flights and more fre­quen­cies. Aus­tralia has many pop­u­lar tourism des­ti­na­tions. We have clean cities and plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who would like to travel. Aus­tralian cities are voted to be the most liv­able places on earth. We have a very so­phis­ti­cated econ­omy and a very ex­trav­a­gant life­style,” she said.

KUWAIT: Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop. —Photo by Joseph Sha­gra

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