Reflections on the US-Kuwait relationship

Alina L Romanowski

By US Ambassador Alina L Romanowski

This past Thanksgiving, I spent time with my family in Washington as we shared a traditional meal of turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie that we prepared together. As you all know, Thanksgiving is an important day for Americans, one that we use to reflect on the things in life for which we are thankful.

As I reflected on what I was thankful for, it could not be more fitting that I was celebrating this holiday upon the finale of the fourth US-Kuwait strategic dialogue – a dialogue involving six working groups and culminating with a meeting between the US Secretary of State and the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister in Washington DC. This dialogue brought the United States and Kuwait even closer together. We signed agreements to improve health care coordination, law enforcement cooperation, and humanitarian assistance around the world.

We added additional cultural and educational exchanges. We launched the inaugural meeting of the Political, Development and Human Rights Working Group, focusing on expanding our formal consultations to include regional political and development issues of mutual interest. The dialogue demonstrates the extensive breadth and depth of US-Kuwait relations and reinforces the undeniable fact that the United States and Kuwait are not merely steadfast allies but very close friends.

In all my encounters with Kuwaitis, I have experienced tremendous kindness and hospitality. Your generosity extends far beyond your borders, as Kuwait provides crucial economic and humanitarian assistance throughout the world. The United States has a long tradition of giving as well, and with the signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding between the US Agency for International Development and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, our two nations will now work even more closely to provide aid to countries in need.

As we address the unprecedented challenges of the current pandemic, healthcare is more critical than ever. With highly innovative US companies on the cutting-edge of vaccine approval, the United States is helping the world finally overcome the scourge of COVID-19. The pandemic has made clear the need for all countries to invest in adequate healthcare systems and work together to address the health threats that endanger us.

The United States and Kuwait already have a longstanding medical relationship as Kuwaiti citizens regularly come to the United States for the world’s most advanced medical treatment. With the signing of the Health Memorandum Of Understanding between the US Department of Health and Human Services and Kuwait’s Ministry of Health, our two countries will enhance cooperation in the areas of public health, biomedical research, medical technology, and medical sciences. By sharing critical knowledge and best practices in medicine, Kuwait will enhance its healthcare to incorporate the latest scientific advances and developments.

We are also cooperating through joint legal efforts to make our countries safer. With the signing of the Declaration of Intent to negotiate a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, our countries have committed to strengthen law enforcement cooperation by creating a regularized channel for obtaining evidence for use in criminal prosecutions and investigations in both countries. This is a significant step towards ensuring the safety and security of both American and Kuwaiti citizens, whether the threat comes from terrorism, transnational crime, or corruption.

As Kuwait works towards diversifying its economy, US institutions and companies are ready to partner with Kuwaiti counterparts to develop the private sector. American enterprises have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share and look forward to developing mutually beneficial opportunities. Our companies are well-known for their creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Forming partnerships between US and Kuwaiti businesses will foster innovation and establish new businesses, which will strengthen the economies of both countries.

I am proud that five generations of Kuwaitis have studied in the United States. Every year, both our countries continue to encourage Kuwaiti youth to join the thousands of Kuwaitis currently studying in the United States. These students not only gain knowledge from our world-class colleges and universities, but also serve as de facto cultural ambassadors, who deepen the friendship and understanding between our peoples.

I am pleased that our countries will continue to work together to improve the quality of English teaching, expand college advising, and increase US university outreach to Kuwaiti students, so that more young Kuwaitis have access to the world-class educational options available in America. I am also looking forward to building on the Statement of Intent on Cultural Cooperation that we signed last year by expanding the range of cultural visitors and projects between the United States and Kuwait. In this way, we further fortify our strong cultural ties and creativity.

Looking to 2021, I am thankful for the strong partnership we are building together. Next year, Kuwait and the United States will celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations as well as Kuwait’s independence. Our two nations share a common perspective – we focus on the future, the potential for our nations, and the wonderful accomplishments that we expect to achieve.

Because of our longstanding partnership, I strongly believe that our futures, much like our past, will be closely linked together. As a steward of this special relationship, I have confidence and optimism that our two nations will continue to face today’s many global challenges together as both trusted allies and close friends.