Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Kuwait's Emir to meet President Donald Trump

Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed is expected to push for GCC unity

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, waves during the opening ceremony of the new legislative year at the parliament in Kuwait City. AFP
The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, waves during the opening ceremony of the new legislative year at the parliament in Kuwait City. AFP

Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed will hold talks with US President Donald Trump on Wednesday in their second meeting in almost a year, state news agency KUNA announced.

Senior lawmakers and ministers will accompany Sheikh Sabah during his working visit and will hold sideline meetings.

The GCC summit in October is expected to be top of the agenda as the Emir is thought to push ahead with a bid to create more unity among the Arab Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar - as well as Egypt and Jordan.

The 89-year-old leader assumed the role of chief mediator in a diplomatic fallout that saw the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain cut relations with Qatar in June 2017.

The countries accused Doha of supporting terrorism and cosying up to regional foe Iran. Doha denies those charges and says the boycott is an attempt to impinge on its sovereignty.


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Since then the GCC has continued to function as an economic bloc at smaller meetings, though with less frequency.

However, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain failed to send their heads of states to the annual meeting of the GCC held in Kuwait — a snub to both Kuwait and Qatar, whose regents were in attendance.

The National reported in July that the Trump administration was planning a conference for the GCC in October and that it would focus on a security co-operation arm tentatively known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance.

But the Qatar dispute could pose a big obstacle to the success of the Gulf states meeting set to take place on October 12-13.

The leaders will also touch on security co-operation, including maritime navigation and counter aggression in relation to Iran. In part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region.

Kuwait, who historically takes a more neutral stance towards Iran, has experienced increased interference from Tehran. Last year, it sentenced 15 locals and one Iranian linked to a terror cell convicted of spying for Iran.

President Hassan Rouhani recently threatened to block international shipping routes in retaliation for US sanctions affecting its oil trade.

Kuwait, along with its Arab allies, wants Iran to stop interfering in their internal affairs but maintains an open dialogue approach with Tehran over policy issues.

The Emir has also taken up the Palestinian cause as one of his main policy goals.

The meeting with Mr Trump takes place just days after the US president's senior adviser, Jared Kushner, suggested the formation of a confederacy between Palestine and Jordan in a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordanian officials shot down the proposal late on Sunday, saying a confederation with Palestinians “is not open for discussion”.

In May the Emir called for a force to help protect Palestinians at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Kuwait, who is currently a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has condemned violence in Palestine and requested UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to ensure the safety and protection of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation.

“The emir's visit portrays that Kuwait holds the title of humanitarian leader and will stick to it. Basically, countries in the region are selling Palestine among one another. That’s what’s happening and we don’t like it,” said an official at the Diwan Al Amiri, Kuwait's royal palace.

Updated: September 5, 2018 11:51 AM