HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah meets US President Barack Obama at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday. — KUNA
HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah meets US President Barack Obama at the UN headquarters in New York yesterday. — KUNA

UNITED NATIONS: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday met US President Barack Obama at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The Amir thanked Obama for inviting him to attend the UN leaders-level Summit on Countering Violent Extremism, expressing hope it would lead to new initiatives to counter all forms of terrorism and extremism. Obama welcomed Sheikh Sabah’s participation in the summit, lauding the strong and distinguished ties between the two friendly countries in all fields, including countering terrorism. HH the Amir and the US president also addressed developments in Yemen and other regional and international scenes.

Meanwhile, representative of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, affirmed that Kuwaitis stood united against terrorism, determined to defeating this menace. The prime minister said the region was confronted by a growing threat of terrorism and violence, using Islam as a pretext for “their criminal deeds which are rejected by all faiths”.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Sheikh Jaber said the so-called the Islamic State was killing people and carrying out an all-out destruction campaign, especially in Iraq and Syria, thus threatening international peace and security. IS’ acts, he added, prompted the establishment of the international coalition to fight the terror group, and Kuwait has contributed actively to supporting this coalition. IS has been killing people, displacing them and even destroying ancient cultural sites in both Iraq and Syria.

Kuwait was not immune from terrorism, he said, as ISIL carried out a “cowardly terrorist act that targeted a mosque in the holy month of Ramadan, killing and injuring a number of our sons”. However, the people of Kuwait stood united against those who wanted to harm them. A suicide attack against Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque in downtown Kuwait City in June killed 27 people and injured 227 others.

Sheikh Jaber said Kuwait rushed to help the Iraqi people who were suffering from IS atrocities, offering $200 million to alleviate troubles caused by the terrorist group. He said Kuwait supported the Iraqi government’s measures to preserve security, stability and territorial integrity of the country. The prime minister reiterated Kuwait’s rejection of all forms of terrorism and extremism. He called for the spread of a culture of tolerance and coexistence amongst the peoples of the world, which were major principles of Islamic sharia.

Sheikh Jaber announced that Kuwait would contribute billions of dollars to honor the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Kuwait will continue its contributions to development out of its belief in the importance of the UN Charter and in appreciation of the honoring of HH the Amir as a “Humanitarian Leader”, thus culminating the state’s leading support to development and humanitarian acts, the prime minister said. He said Kuwait is the world leader in terms of providing humanitarian aid compared to its gross national income in 2014.

Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), said Sheikh Jaber, has been active in its support of development projects in developing countries regardless of their location, faith or ethnicity. KFAED has contributed over $18 billion to development projects in more than 100 countries since its establishment in 1961. The fund, he added, would contribute $15 billion for the next 15 years in order to honor the SDGs.

Sheikh Jaber also expressed condolences to Saudi Arabia over the stampede that took place during the hajj last week. The prime minister expressed deepest sorrow for those who died in the incident, wishing speedy recovery for the injured and security and safety for Saudi Arabia and its people. With gratitude and appreciation, he reaffirmed the strenuous efforts in addressing the needs of hajj pilgrims, wishing lasting prosperity for Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Jaber reaffirmed that only a peaceful political solution would end the Syrian crisis. He said the Syrian conflict, which broke out in March 2011, should be resolved in a way that spares Syrian brothers any hardships and guarantees their return to their homes and resumption of normal life. He noted that the Syrian conflict, which entered its fifth year, has killed and wounded hundreds of thousands of people and forced millions of Syrians to flee their homes to safe havens either inside the country or abroad. “The influx of huge number of refugees into European countries is evident of the magnitude of their ordeal, which affirms our warning against the consequences of this disaster on the people as well as undermining the security and stability of countries,” he said.

Sheikh Jaber noted that Kuwait acted at the humanitarian level, hosting three donor conferences over the past three years to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. Kuwait, during these meetings, contributed $1.3 billion out of more than $7 billion pledged. The bulk of Kuwait aid was handed over to UN agencies and government and non-government organizations engaged in provision of humanitarian aid for the Syrian people. Kuwait charitable organizations are also active on the ground in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, who are hosting millions of Syrian refugees.

Sheikh Jaber also held Israel responsible for the stagnation of Middle East peace process and suffering of Palestinians. International and regional efforts to achieving peace in the Middle East are stagnant due to Israeli stubbornness, illegal expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian lands, holding thousands of Palestinian people behind bars and systematically assaulting the Palestinians, the prime minister said.

He said Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip last year killed and wounded thousands of Palestinian people, as well as destroying public and private properties, coupled with the illegal siege of the strip. Sheikh Jaber said the Israeli aggression against Al-Aqsa Mosque was in violation of international humanitarian law and international law, as well as relevant UN Security Council resolutions, which thus required the UNSC to shoulder its responsibility and force Israel to stop its illegal practices.

Iran Nuclear Deal

Sheikh Jaber welcomed UN resolution 2231, which approved a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group. The agreement, which was concluded a few months ago following two years of tough negotiations, was materialized through candid diplomatic efforts aimed at addressing the Iranian nuclear file, he said. “Kuwait hopes the Islamic Republic of Iran continues its cooperation and implementation of the Joint Plan of Action, as well as abide by its responsibilities in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and relevant Security Council resolutions,’ he said.

He hoped Iran would positively respond to regional countries’ efforts to establish relations based on cooperation, mutual respect, good neighborliness, non-interfering in the internal affairs and ending the occupation of three islands that belong to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This will help easing of tension in the region and enforce security and stability in the region, said the senior Kuwaiti official. The prime minister called on Israel to join the NPT and place its nuclear facilities for IAEA inspection to pave way for clearing the Middle East region of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

Sheikh Jaber said Yemen is facing serious challenges due to the intransigence of the Houthi militia and its insistence on breaking its pledges, thus threatening security and stability of region. He said that due to the Houthi’s behavior in Yemen, action was required to ensure the maintenance of stability, hence the Saudi-led coalition was formed and military operations were directed against the Houthi militias to deter them. Such military action was needed to restore stability of Yemen as well as the security of “our countries and region”, he added. At the humanitarian level, the prime minister reaffirmed Kuwait’s commitments towards the Yemeni people in need, and reiterated HH the Amir’s generous contribution of $100 million in humanitarian aid.

Sheikh Jaber called on Libyan parties to positively cooperate with the UN special envoy’s efforts towards forming a government of national unity. He said Kuwait was following with great interest the agreement announced by Bernandino Leon, UN Secretary General’s special envoy to Libya, to end fighting and form a national unity government. He hoped the Libyan parties deal positively with Leon’s initiatives in order to end the fighting and pave the way for the reconstruction of institutions and preserve the sovereignty and territorial unity of Libya.