Conference beginning of security, stability in region: KCCI chief

KUWAIT: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah give a press conference on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting in Kuwait City yesterday, gathering representatives of member states of the US-led military coalition that has been battling the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and neighboring Syria

KUWAIT: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian affirmed yesterday his country’s commitment and support to Iraq until the country revives and prosper, noting that France will stand by Iraq just like it did during its fight against terrorism. The minister made his remarks during ‘Invest in Iraq’ conference, in a speech on the reconstruction of Iraq, adding that the rebuilding process will be huge and difficult, but voiced optimism with Iraq’s ability to recover and improve due to its immense resources and human capabilities.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian attends a ministerial meeting of the US-led military coalition that has been battling the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq and neighboring Syria, yesterday in Kuwait City. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Le Drian also said Iraq can stand on its feet and achieve national reconciliation and begin the reconstruction process, but taking into account the social and humanitarian aspect of it, stressing a comprehensive reconstruction process that should not neglect any populated area in Iraq.

The minister said that France would meet all requirements by standing with Iraq, as well as providing soft loans, adding France will contribute to support infrastructure, especially in the field of energy and water.

La Drian pointed out that after emergency humanitarian assistance and stability, “we must rely on a diversified economy through the private sector,” noting that French companies are actively involved with a number of investors in a number of areas, hoping that this will result in good relations. “We believe we have received positive signals from the Iraqi government,” La Drian said, adding that France is ready to proudly stand by Iraq to contribute in the reconstruction process.

Security and stability
The ‘Invest in Iraq’ conference is the beginning of a phase of security and stability in the region, said Chairman of Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Ali Al-Ghanem yesterday. This came in Ghanem’s opening remark of the conference, which is part of the overall Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI); held from February 12 to 14.

“Kuwait does not see the conference only as yet another experience that deep-seats Kuwait’s Arab, regional and international role, but also as a pioneering endeavor in restoring pan-Arab relations, with an outlook to reconciliation,” he said. The conference, organized by KCCI, will provide an opportunity for the private sector to be introduced to investment opportunities and promising venture-making environments in post-IS Iraq.

The ‘Invest in Iraq’ conference is considered an investment singularity, with some 1,500 companies from 50 countries participating, which reflects these companies’ optimism, noted Ghanem. All participants realize that the second day of KICRI represents its true economic pulse, Ghanem said, stressing at the same time the role of the private sector in this regard, with potential of development projects in Iraq booming.

Global goal
Reconstruction of Iraq is the goal for the international community in general and the Middle East in particular, said Vice President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa Hafeth Ghanem yesterday. As a global entity, the Bank is concerned with the reconstruction of Iraq, due to the fact it is a major country, hence its stability and safety would contribute to stability and security of the region, Ghanem said in an interview on the sideline of the ‘Invest in Iraq’ conference, which kicked off earlier and co-organized by the World Bank.

The World Bank had been working with the Iraqi government in order to assess needs of the war-torn country and requirements for its reconstruction process, he said. KICRI includes the World Bank, in addition to the UN and the European Union as co-organizers, along with Iraq and the host Kuwait.

“Iraq is an investments-attracting country. It owns significant wealth in oil, agriculture and tourism, in addition to industry. “The investor is looking for guarantees like proper tax policies and easy transfer of capital, as well as security,” he pointed out.

Ghanem said the Kuwaiti private sector is interested in entering the Iraqi market, “and we encourage it to do so,” as the World Bank have had many meetings with representatives of Kuwaiti private firms to discuss the matter.
On the World Bank Group’s work in Iraq, Ghanem said “it involves financing social projects, rebuilding hospitals and schools in areas recently liberated from IS, as well as financing educational, health care and societal programs,” among other investment-related issues. – KUNA