Kuwait-US relations 'very productive, meaningful' |
Kuwait Times - 10 July, 2012
The US Ambassador to Kuwait has affirmed closeness of relations between Washington and Kuwait noting that these solid ties are based on both common interests and shared values, confirming dialogue with the Gulf State government that will continue regarding the case of two citizens held at Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Matthew H Tueller described the relationship between the United States and Kuwait as “a very, very close one, based on shared values and interests and a common view of what our aspirations are for this region and the world,” in addition to being “very productive and meaningful to both sides.”
“It underscored for me, the very closeness of our relationship and the many, many Kuwaitis who from the their time studying, travelling or visiting the US have fond memories of celebrating the July 4 in their own countries,” said Tueller in the interview, on the occasion of the US July 4th Independence Day.
The US continues to be a major trading partner and an advocate of cultural programs for the youth in Kuwait, said Tueller. He also described these trade relations as ‘important in the overall picture’ of friendly, diplomatic relations between both countries.
Kuwaiti exports, mainly crude, to the US in 2011 reached $ 7.8 billion while various forms of trade and joint investments going in the opposite direction topped $ 2.7 billion, revealed embassy figures.
In addition to this vast economic cooperation, the US has hosted ‘some very successful cultural events that have allowed us to reach out to young Kuwaitis,’ added the ambassador.
Earlier this year, the embassy hosted a music performances by the jazz band CoCo York, Mike del Ferro and the Arab-American singer Kareem Salama, in addition to workshops for higher education, journalism and skateboarding, read an embassy statement.
The embassy has several activities planned for the future, including a Ramadan youth event sponsored by the State Department, a sports event for women offering Access Microscholarship programs, seminars on news literacy, the US elections and an international book exhibition.
Tueller affirmed that Washington was keen on resuming talks over Kuwait’s Guantanamo Bay detainees. “We do continue to maintain very close cooperation and regular exchanges with the Kuwaiti government, which has regularly made known to us and has raised its concerns about the remaining two Kuwaiti detainees.
And I foresee that will continue – that very close dialogue with Kuwaiti authorities on this issue – because we understand the importance the issue has to the Kuwaiti people and the Kuwaiti government,” the ambassador said in the interview with KUNA.
The talks will aim at repatriating both Fawzi Al-Odah and Fayez Al-Kandari, held in the US jail for over a decade, to follow suit with another 10 Kuwaitis, released with no charges after being held under the US extrajudicial detention law.
On his country’s 236th year since its declaration of independence, he said,”It was very gratifying to me the many expressions of friendship I received from Kuwaitis, both citizens and government officials.”
The US ambassador hailed Kuwaiti politics as being ‘unique’ among its Gulf counterparts. He also praised the Constitution as being ‘highly respected by all Kuwaitis,’ stressing that the US supports “the Kuwaitis who seek to support, advance and strengthen their constitutional traditions.”
On dealing with an Iranian Parliament-proposed blocking of the Strait of Hormuz – one of the world’s most strategic shipping channels – where Iran and its Gulf neighbors, including Kuwait, provide the world with an estimated 20 percent its oil supply, the US ambassador upheld the view that the international community were the sole determiners.
“Any statements from any party that threatens to close off the Strait of Hormuz – which is an international waterway – are really directed towards the international community, as a whole,” he said.
Iranian lawmakers were reported to have issued a draft law, aimed at enforcing a block of the Strait of Hormuz to vessels from countries that have imposed sanctions on Tehran, in response to renewed Western sanctions on its oil exports.
“It would be incumbent on the international community therefore to respond to any threat against the Strait of Hormuz. So, the US, working within the UN context, I am confident would be able to find broad support internationally, to counter any threat to freedom of passage through the Strait of Hormuz,” he underlined. Asked if the US – a major importer of oil from Arab Gulf states – planned to increase its military capacity in the Gulf to combat these threats, the ambassador said that his country “will always seek to maintain in this region the appropriate presence in order to deter any actor that would seek to threaten our interests.
“We, of course, have a long history of presence in the Gulf that has always been designed to promote security and stability in the region, to protect the interest of our friends and allies, to ensure that their freedom of navigation and movement (is not compromised) and that no hostile power threatens this region.
“I’m very pleased over the very strong positive relationship we have with our friends here in the region – with the member states of the GCC (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman). We will maintain a close dialogue with our partners, here in the region, about how to respond and deal with any threats to the interests of our friends and allies.”
The US ambassador similarly referred to international diplomacy, in efforts aimed at solving the Syrian bloody conflict between the regime and its opposition, adding that military action was on the cards as a final option. “I believe we are still making significant progress on the diplomatic side and we certainly hope that the regime and others will hear this.
We will be redoubling our efforts in the Security Council to put in place a resolution that contains real consequence if the regime does not begin to comply with the (six) points that Kofi Annan and all of those who participated in the (June 30) meetings in Geneva agreed should be the objective of the international community.”
The meeting was attended by the Five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and Germany, several Arab League member nations, headed by Kuwait, and the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan.
Furthermore, he described the meetings as “having achieved some very significant diplomatic progress” on a plan that complies with Annan’s six points, including “a transitional governmental authority with full governing rights, broad participation and (one that) will be made up by mutual consent of all parties.”
By this, the agreement underlines “that there must be an authority that now replaces the Assad regime, which has shown by its actions over this past year that it is not willing to be part of an effort to bring about a resolution of this conflict and meet the demands of the Syrian people.”
He underlined that the internationally-proposed authority should “not be a consultative body,” and that it was “time now for the Assad regime to listen to the clear expression of the international community and to open the way for this transitional authority to take over.”
Whilst being somewhat overshadowed by the Syrian conflict, the ambassador said that the Palestinian-Israeli crisis “has not been forgotten” and that President Obama along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were still committed to getting the two sides to agree to resume direct negotiations.
The efforts include a visit by US special envoy David Hale a few weeks ago during which he met with senior Palestinian and Israeli officials. “Our objective will continue to be, to get a path for the resumption of direct negotiations,” he underlined.
Ambassador Tueller went on to hail ‘the significant developments’ in Egyptian politics after the election of their new President Mohamed Morsi, describing the country as “a close partner and friend of the United States.” “We wish President Morsi well and we stand by – as many friends of Egypt do – to assist as Egypt makes its transition to a new democratic form of government,” he concluded.