Saudi crown prince in historic visit to Kuwait

Manama: The latest regional developments, particularly the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Iran and the economic sanctions to come into force against Tehran in November, will be high on the agenda in talks between Saudi and Kuwaiti leaders this week.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman will be in Kuwait on Saturday, three years after he visited the northern Arabian Gulf state as the deputy crown prince.

Ways to bolster relations between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, including the status of the oil fields they share, will also be high on the agenda as the two countries reiterate the strength of their bonds.

In July, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait set up a coordination council as a major platform to boost cooperation between them and the visit is expected to discuss joint ventures and commercial and economic opportunities.

In August, Kuwait’s Oil and Electricity Minister Bakheet Al Rashidi said his country expected to soon sign deals on the development of the oil fields it shared with Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

“Matters with brothers in Saudi Arabia are going at a steady pace and we expect the return of production in the divided region soon,” he was quoted as saying by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna) last month.

With political and security developments unfolding at a tremendous pace in the region, Riyadh is increasingly keen on convergent attitudes in the Gulf towards US actions vis-à-vis Iran and Tehran’s possible reaction, especially if it threatens regional security and stability.

Prince Mohammad’s visit is likely to stress the importance of common stances, according to observers.

Kuwait lowered its diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016 and recalled its ambassador, saying the decision had been taken following “the storming, torching and sabotage activities carried out by a group of demonstrators on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad”.

Kuwait blames Iran for its interference in the domestic affairs of Gulf countries, including Kuwait.

“Iran should take concrete steps to change its policy and adopt a positive role in the region,” Kuwaiti officials said.

Last week, Kuwait reiterated it would not reinstate its ambassador unless Tehran reviewed its policy.

Also likely on the agenda of Saudi-Kuwaiti talks are the latest developments in Yemen and in Syria and the situation within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), according to observers.

Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in addition to Egypt, in June last year severed their diplomatic, trade and travel relations with Qatar after they accused it of supporting extremists and funding terrorism despite the pledges it made in the Riyadh Agreement.

The four countries issued a list of demands that Qatar rejected as it dismissed the accusations.

Mediation efforts, led by Kuwait and supported by the US and several other countries, have not succeeded in making any breakthrough.

In Kuwait, the cabinet welcomed Prince Mohammad’s visit as a consolidation of the growing distinguished relations between the two countries.

“We are particularly proud of the progress of our bilateral relations and we look at the achievements being accomplished in Saudi Arabia with great admiration,” Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Al Jarallah said. “We will never forget the Saudi stance and support during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.”

Iraqi troops invaded neighbouring Kuwait in August 1990, but were ejected in February 1991.


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