US ambassador ‘disappointed’ as GCC crisis lingers
KUWAIT: The United States expressed frustration over unresolved issues of unity amongst Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Outgoing US Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman echoed his country’s position during a press conference at his residence in Bayan yesterday, which was his last as US envoy to Kuwait. The US top diplomat in Kuwait told reporters that he was ‘disappointed’ that he was leaving Kuwait as US Ambassador with no clear solution regarding the ongoing diplomatic crisis within the GCC.
The GCC crisis will be one of the topics on the table of discussion during His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s imminent meeting with US President Donald Trump, which will also revolve around bilateral ties and current happenings around the region, said the American Ambassador. Since the very beginning of the dispute, His Highness the Amir has brokered talks to reach a solution, and the United States has supported his effort and will continue to do so, Silverman affirmed. “His Highness the Amir has done a tremendous job to find a solution and create dialogue within GCC countries, yet the issue remains unresolved,” he said. “This dispute is within the Gulf Cooperation Council and we believe that it must be settled within the countries in the region. We support every effort done by His Highness the Amir and GCC countries to bring about a solution to this prolonged dispute.” To this date, according to the envoy, the dispute remains a topic of high priority diplomatically. “The best way to restore full unity is through cooperation,” he stressed.
Myriad of issues
US President Trump will host His Highness the Amir at the White House on September 12, where the two are expected to discuss a myriad of issues including bilateral cooperation and regional developments. “Yes, I am sure they will,” the envoy said when asked if the two leaders will discuss the GCC dispute during their talks. “We have discussed this issue in the previous dialogues in 2017 and 2018, and I am sure they will discuss it once again,” he added. A number of deals between the two countries are pending confirmation amid the upcoming talks, the ambassador noted. “I also want to recognize and appreciate the positive role Kuwait plays in this region to make it safer and secure,” Silverman said. “We thank His Highness the Amir for his initiative and efforts done to bring about the solution to the GCC dispute. We also would like to thank His Highness the Amir on his humanitarian role, globally recognized; again it is because of the mentality of His Highness the Amir as Humanitarian Leader.”
On the issue of Iran, maintaining stability and protecting the freedom of navigation in the region, Ambassador Silverman admitted that they are in discussion with Kuwait and other countries in the region for the possibility of contributing in broader effort to help maintain freedom of navigation in the territorial waters and Strait of Hormuz. “We are still having discussion with the countries around the region including Europe; at least only about in safeguarding freedom of navigation,” the envoy said. “We have a very broad international support to protect the freedom of navigation. There are many countries around who already come forward to openly support us.”
Human trafficking and domestic labor
Asked by the Kuwait Times on Kuwait’s efforts to improve in areas of human trafficking and domestic labor, Silverman noted that there have been significant improvements in this area. “We have seen Kuwait’s progress in this issue, which is why Kuwait’s rank has been raised to tier 2 from tier 3 in our 2018 human trafficking report,” he said.
“We did that for a couple of reasons,” the Ambassador went on. “One because we saw prosecutions of suspects and people who are engaged in this horrible treatment to humans.” Most importantly, Silverman said, the decision came in recognition of Kuwait’s implementation of laws like the one which stipulates that passports must be kept by employees, and setting specific working hours, which help protect domestic laborers.
In his valedictory press briefing, Silverman cited many great times and privileges accorded to him by Kuwaiti people and the government as US ambassador to Kuwait. He thanked the media for their “well-maintained-cooperation” and for showing professionalism in their fields. “It has been a wonderful three years’ experience in Kuwait,” he said. “My journey as US ambassador to Kuwait has come to an end, but our cooperation will continue and will flourish for more. My relationship with His Highness the Amir has always been strong.” Silverman expressed his believe that Kuwait and the US could still do more together. “We have launched and initiated dialogue, and our relationship bore the very practical benefits for both. This relationship that we are talking about has benefits on investment, trade, education, entrepreneurship to diversifying the economy,” he concluded.
By Ben Garcia