x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Kuwait dismisses threats to megaport

Kuwait said that threats by Iraqi militants would not deter the oil-rich emirate from completing the construction of a controversial megaport between the two nations.

KUWAIT CITY // Kuwait said yesterday that threats by Iraqi militants would not deter the oil-rich emirate from completing the construction of a controversial megaport between the two nations.

"We are not scared by threats and we are continuing the construction work in the project. Work is ongoing smoothly and as planned," said Khaled Al Jarallah, the foreign ministry undersecretary.

The Kuwaiti official was responding to new threats by the Iraqi Shiite militant group Ketaeb Hizbollah that it would strike at the port if Kuwait did not halt construction.

The group made its first threat last month and Kuwaiti newspapers yesterday published new threats by the same group.

"This threat is unfortunate and irresponsible," Mr Al Jarallah said after a presentation on Mubarak Al-Kabeer port to heads of foreign diplomatic missions in Kuwait.

"There must be an official Iraqi handling of these threats," the Kuwaiti official said.

Last month, Ketaeb Hizbollah, which has claimed deadly attacks on US troops in Iraq and is believed to be backed by Iran, warned a South Korean consortium to halt work on the Kuwaiti port project.

Iraqis are objecting to the port because they say it will strangle Iraqi shipping lanes.

The Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki has said that Kuwait has yet to notify Baghdad of the Mubarak project. He said Baghdad only learned about it from third parties.

The multibillion-dollar container port is being constructed on Bubiyan Island, close to the border with Iraq, and is due for completion in 2016. Construction began in 2007.

Mr Al Jarallah and other Kuwaiti officials yesterday denied that the port would have any "negative impact" on the shipping lines or the environment, saying it would rather better serve the economies of both nations.

Mr Al Jarallah said an Iraqi technical delegation received details on the project in Kuwait City in May and visited the site of the project. Another delegation is due to arrive in the emirate soon for more questions.