Kuwait and US share sim­i­lar Mideast agen­das: US en­voy

Sil­ver­man hails re­sump­tion of di­rect flights, Kuwaiti hu­man­i­tar­ian aid

Kuwait Times - - Front Page - By Ben Gar­cia

KUWAIT: Kuwait and the United States share sim­i­lar agen­das in the Mid­dle East, in­clud­ing ef­forts to pre­serve Gulf unity, US Am­bas­sador to Kuwait Lawrence Sil­ver­man said yes­ter­day. He was speak­ing dur­ing a roundtable at the US Em­bassy on the Kuwait-US strate­gic di­a­logue with US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo that will kick off to­mor­row. Is­sues of re­gional im­por­tance and bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries will be the main sub­jects to be dis­cussed, in­clud­ing de­fense and se­cu­rity, econ­omy, ed­u­ca­tion and trade.

“We had a sim­i­lar di­a­logue in 2016 and 2017 - it’s a process. What we are try­ing to do is strengthen our re­la­tions in all as­pects, in­clud­ing mak­ing trav­el­ling from Kuwait to the US eas­ier. Just last week, Kuwait Air­ways was able to re­sume di­rect flights to New York City, which was the re­sult of the two gov­ern­ments’ con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to make the Amer­i­can and Kuwaiti peo­ple reap the prac­ti­cal ben­e­fits of our strate­gic re­la­tions,” he said. Sil­ver­man also re­vealed “Kuwait’s de­sire” to set up an Amer­i­can-staffed cus­tom check­point at Kuwait In­ter­na­tional Air­port, sim­i­lar to the one in Abu Dhabi. Kuwait’s re­quest in this re­gard is cur­rently un­der dis­cus­sion, he said.

Sil­ver­man said Pom­peo’s visit is part of his tour of the Mid­dle East which in­cluded Jor­dan, Iraq and Egypt, and un­der­scores Amer­ica’s in­ter­est in the re­gion, in­clud­ing the GCC coun­tries. Sil­ver­man re­it­er­ated his coun­try’s com­mit­ment to re­gional se­cu­rity and the im­por­tance of re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries as well as look for ways to curb Iran’s desta­bi­liz­ing prac­tices in the re­gion and find so­lu­tions to re­gional prob­lems in­clud­ing Ye­men. “The unity of the GCC is ex­tremely im­por­tant; it will be high­lighted in this trip. The sec­re­tary is here to find and ex­plore so­lu­tions to re­gional con­flicts and find so­lu­tions to the neg­a­tive ac­tiv­i­ties of Iran,” he said.

Sil­ver­man said the US pres­i­dent and his sec­re­tary of state ap­pre­ci­ate the ef­forts made by Kuwait, not only in the diplo­matic sphere, but also Kuwait’s hu­man­i­tar­ian con­tri­bu­tions to refugees as a ma­jor ef­fort for the sta­bil­ity of the re­gion. “We would like to thank HH the Amir for his hu­man­i­tar­ian work - the Amir does not need to do what he does. It’s not only the right thing to do in terms of hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance, but also a ma­jor in­vest­ment for sta­bil­ity in the re­gion,” he added.

Sil­ver­man pointed out that mil­i­tary agree­ments be­tween Kuwait and the US are aimed at en­hanc­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the Kuwaiti army and train­ing its per­son­nel. Mil­i­tary con­tracts, ac­cord­ing to Sil­ver­man, are due to be

signed dur­ing the di­a­logue. He said there have been deals on F18 air­craft and M1A2 tanks, in­di­cat­ing that the two sides will dis­cuss the de­liv­ery of the mil­i­tary equip­ment in the com­ing few years.

Sil­ver­man re­it­er­ated Amer­ica’s com­mit­ment to host­ing the GCC-US sum­mit in Wash­ing­ton, ex­pected to be held in the first quar­ter of this year as an an­nual event to dis­cuss many is­sues, in­clud­ing end­ing the Gulf cri­sis, strength­en­ing trade and eco­nomic re­la­tions and com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism and dry­ing up its sources.

“We had com­mit­ted to host the sum­mit - Saudi Ara­bia hosted the May 2017 sum­mit. We want to see the end to the Gulf dis­pute, along with other is­sues such as fight­ing ter­ror­ism, stop­ping ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing, cre­at­ing a real struc­ture to max­i­mize the de­fense against bal­lis­tic mis­siles and also en­hance our eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions,” he said.

The en­voy also con­firmed the at­ten­dance of Kuwait at a min­is­te­rial meet­ing sched­uled to be held in War­saw in mid-Fe­bru­ary. “An in­vi­ta­tion was sent to Kuwait and they con­firmed that they are go­ing to at­tend the min­is­te­rial meet­ing along with 70 other coun­tries. We hope to see the max­i­mum at­ten­dance - Iran will be part of the con­fer­ence, with the hope that it could lead to a change in the be­hav­ior of the Ira­nian regime, but other is­sues will be dis­cussed too,” he added.

On the sanc­tions against Iran, Sil­ver­man said this is only the be­gin­ning stage and re­sults will not ap­pear quickly. He pointed out that Ira­nian oil ex­ports had fallen from 2.7 mil­lion bar­rels per day to less than 1 mil­lion, hop­ing to see re­sults on the ground soon. “The eco­nomic sanc­tions on Iran re­duce the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment’s sup­port of ter­ror­ist groups, in­clud­ing Hezbol­lah in Le­banon, which by its prac­tices harms the econ­omy of Le­banon. So sanc­tions have an ef­fect - as the his­tory of sanc­tions shows, coun­tries will al­ways claim they are not af­fected, but they have a great im­pact on the econ­omy in the long term. I hope the Ira­nian gov­ern­ment will re­al­ize the mag­ni­tude of the eco­nomic dif­fi­cul­ties it is putting on it­self and its peo­ple,” he added.

On the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, the am­bas­sador said the US gov­ern­ment is keen to re­vive peace talks, point­ing out there is no spe­cific timetable for re­launch­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the two coun­tries. On the US mil­i­tary pull­out from Syria as an­nounced by US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, he said it was mainly a tac­ti­cal de­ci­sion rather than a strate­gic one, stress­ing that the US pol­icy to­ward Syria has not changed and the elim­i­na­tion of Ira­nian-backed ter­ror­ist groups is still the top pri­or­ity.

“We want to see a po­lit­i­cal so­lu­tion with re­gards to the Syr­ian regime. We ask them to com­ply with UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 2254. Some Arab coun­tries have ex­pressed their de­sire to re­open em­bassies in Syria, but we dis­agree with this. If you (the Arab coun­tries) are try­ing to in­flu­ence the As­sad regime to do what it is sup­posed to do, we don’t be­lieve the re­open­ing of em­bassies is the right thing to do,” he con­cluded.

— Photo by Joseph Sha­gra

KUWAIT: US Am­bas­sador to Kuwait Lawrence Sil­ver­man speaks dur­ing a roundtable at the US Em­bassy yes­ter­day.

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