Open Government Initiative: Strategic Dialogue Opening Remarks and Signing
FOREIGN MINISTER AL-KHALED: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, (inaudible) members of the Kuwaiti delegation to welcome you, to welcome the U.S. delegation to Kuwait, chiefly to the third round of U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue. This round of Strategic Dialogue is held under the slogan “Enhancing Strategic Partnerships.” I would like as well to express how much I value the efforts exerted by all the stakeholders in organizing and preparing for this distinguished meeting.
Ladies and gentlemen, holding such meetings embodies the importance the leaders of both countries, chiefly His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, may God protect him, and His Excellency, the President of the United States, Mr. Donald Trump, attach to consolidating bilateral relations, bilateral historic relations between both countries. And such meetings reflect the issues discussed by His Highness. May God protect him and the President of the United States during his both meetings to the United States in 2017 and 2018.
Strategic Dialogue between both countries since launch – its launch in 2016 has brought several and major contributions in consolidating bilateral relations between both countries and putting them into an institutional framework. First of all, twenty-three different sectors are participating in the Strategic Dialogue between both countries – fourteen from Kuwait and nine from the United States.
Two: Ten documents have been signed during this meeting – these meetings: agreements, memorandums of understanding, in addition to eight documents that will be signed today, so that we will have overall eighteen documents, agreements, memorandums of understanding, and statement of intent. Fifty-five meetings of preparation have been held for this – the third round of the Strategic Dialogue from September 2017 till March 2019. All these figures, numbers, and achievements are a clear indicator on the firm will of both parties in further consolidating both – bilateral relations between both countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished assembly, we highly value the U.S. commitment in preserving the security, stability of Kuwait and the region. This firm will and commitment, which was made clear by establishing the alliance to eliminate aggression in Kuwait in 1991 – this position has made it clear that the United States is keen on preserving justice, peace, and promoting communities. Such a position and such an alliance will never be forgotten by the Kuwaiti population, and we would like to value as well this preliminary position, this firm position, and we will look forward to further consolidating the bilateral relations between both countries that have been up – that have taken another level since the ’90s, these bilateral relations that reflect the partnership between both countries and that reflect the strong will between both countries to reach strategic partnership. And this was reflected when the United States called Kuwait a strategic ally to it in this region and outside the NATO.
Ladies and gentlemen, economic and commercial relations play a crucial role in our Strategic Dialogue because it will – they will lead to further development and they will generate more job opportunities that will promote peace and prosperity in this country. The overall investment of Kuwait in the United States have reached $380 billion in banks, real estate, and energy, and this – that has created major job opportunities in both countries.
In addition, the U.S. investment have brought great further opportunities. Trade between both countries have reached $8 billion in 2017 which reflect the trust between both countries and the strong will to further develop the bilateral relations. We believe in the potential and opportunities in our countries. We believe in the economic opportunities. We have – this is why we are looking forward for more development, more economic promotion in this regard, and we are looking forward for more economic collaboration between both countries, more trade relations. We are looking forward to increased trade between both countries and we know how important it is to create and generate more activities to further consolidate this relationship.
Ladies and gentlemen, the United States of America for more than 70 years is still the first destination of Kuwaiti students. This is why we value the quality of education in the United States. And during the seven last decades, several Kuwaiti people have – that have studied in the United States have brought into Kuwait their skills, their education to further promote and advance the country of Kuwait. Today, we have 12,700 Kuwaiti students studying in the United States, which represents more than 50 percent of the Kuwaiti students that are studying abroad. And in this regard, I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the United States for facilitating the education of the Kuwaiti students and for facilitating their travel to the United States so that they could get a quality education. And we would like to thank you for helping them overcome all possible obstacles there.
Today, we know that the Kuwaiti tourists in the United States have – are more than 65,000 Kuwaitis. Ladies and gentlemen, we know how important it is to consolidate the bilateral relationships between both countries, and this is why we would like to thank you for all the efforts exerted in this regard. I would like to reiterate how important it is to Kuwait to consolidate these bilateral relations and how it is – how important is the relationship between the United States and Kuwait and how important it is for us as well as for the U.S. delegation, and thank you so much. May the peace and blessings of God be upon you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, for the introduction and the kind words. Thanks too for hosting this third Strategic Dialogue between our two countries. As you know, I was supposed to visit Kuwait during my trip in January but a family emergency cut my trip short. You and your team were most gracious and understanding about the matter, and I wanted to personally thank you all for that. I promised I would get here quickly and reschedule. I wanted to get here soon to pay my first visit as Secretary of State, and I’m thrilled to be in your wonderful country today.
You should all know President Trump sends his personal greetings as well. He was proud to host His Highness the Amir at the White House in September of last year.
I’d be remiss too if I didn’t thank the leaders and people of Kuwait for their many tributes to late President George H.W. Bush, who left us last November. His leadership and defense of Kuwait and the principle, helping friends confront international aggression, will never be forgotten. This dialogue has helped produce the highest level of cooperation between our two countries since American coalition allies liberated Kuwait now almost three decades ago. Today marks another step forward in our strong bilateral relationship.
On security, I’ll repeat what I said during my recent speech in Cairo and at the Warsaw ministerial last month: The United States is seeking vigorous new efforts from all countries in the region to address the security challenges of our time. These challenges include defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida for sure. Kuwait is a strong partner towards that goal. And the agreements we are signing today affirm Kuwait’s commitment. We’re pleased too that our cooperation to enhance cyber security is growing and will remain a main feature of our coordination in the years to come.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to reiterate today the U.S.’s commitment to Kuwait’s security. Strong partnerships and alliances are key to overcoming the challenges I just spoke about, and the United States truly appreciates the extraordinary efforts His Highness the Amir has made to facilitate a resolution to the Gulf dispute. We – we all – we all need a united GCC if the Middle East strategic alliance is to come to full fruition. In January, we held meetings in Muscat on the economic and energy pillars of the alliance, and just last month, we met in Washington to discuss the political and security pillars of that alliance. We appreciate very much the very constructive participation of the Kuwaiti delegation during each of those discussions and we’re counting on more to come.
I’m also confident that our cooperation will help Kuwait meet its development goals under its new Kuwait Vision 2035 plan. We’re excited to agree to an MOU that will promote innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business development in Kuwait. America will always support a greater role for the private sector because nothing creates jobs like free enterprise. Our joint efforts can buttress His Highness the Amir’s message to the CEOs of 15 major U.S. corporations last September in Washington. We’re also very pleased there will soon be the first-ever U.S.-Kuwait business council hosted by our Chamber of Commerce in Washington.
And finally, the ties created by five generations of Kuwaitis studying in the United States are among our strongest linkages. We welcome Kuwaiti students. I had a chance to meet with a number of them who recently studied in the United States. We continue to welcome them to our universities. We know they gain knowledge and skills to contribute to Kuwait’s development and it improves the relationship between our two countries as well.
Today our governments will sign a statement of intent on cultural cooperation. This will promote those connections between Americans and Kuwaitis and facilitate partnerships between cultural institutions in the United States and in Kuwait.
Mr. Deputy Prime Minister, it was my honor to discuss the future of this great relationship and pressing regional issues with His Highness the Amir earlier today. We appreciate his vision and his wisdom. I look forward to our conversations in this dialogue and I welcome the next generation of cooperation and friendship between our two countries. Thank you.