French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius praised as "excellent" on Tuesday the level of friendly ties and joint action between his country and the State of Kuwait, saying tourist visas for Kuwaitis would be issued within 48 hours.
Speaking at a joint press conference with First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Fabius said both countries share the aspiration for taking the close cooperation to an even higher level.
He noted that his first visit to Kuwait atop a senior-level delegation is meant to boost the mutually-beneficial partnership between the two countries which proved to be all-weather friends.
The French minister thanked the State of Kuwait for the warm welcome he received and commended as great the role of the Kuwaiti leaders in promoting peace, stability and humanitarian action in the Middle East and beyond.
On his meeting earlier today with His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Fabius said he handed His Highness the Prime Minister an invitation to visit France, adding that the conveyed a message of warm friendship from French President Francois Hollande to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
Fabius has met Kuwait's National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim and a number of cabinet members, and attended the inauguration of what he called "very advanced" seawater desalination plant to which a French investor contributed.
He has also met business leaders from both countries at Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), and is scheduled to meet Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh.
The two sides have inked a range of agreements and MoUs on cooperation in such fields as economy, investment, sciences, education and culture.
They also made "decision with immediate effect" on, inter alia, shortening the visa procedures for Kuwait nationals to just 48 hours, Fabius revealed, noting that this is the minimum period for granting French visas for visitors from around the globe.
The decisions also include helping Kuwaiti students in the elementary stages learn French which will have positive impact on the friendship in the long run, he went on.
Commending Kuwait's five-year development plan, Fabius expressed the desire of French investors in the implementation of a number of vital projects.
He added his delegation was encouraged by what they heard from His Highness the Amir in this regard. Asked on the growing sense of alienation and apprehensions among Muslims in France in the wake of the recent Paris attacks, he said all French nationals are treated on equal footing regardless of their faith and whether they were believers or non-believers.
Any anti-Muslim sentiments are totally unacceptable. Islamophobia is not a viewpoint; it is a crime punishable by law, he said, affirming his conviction that the Islam is the faith of moderation.
France, as a secular country since early the 20th century, reacts strongly to any act that poses threat to Muslims based on their faith; this is a crime under the French law, he said, noting that the rule applies to all faiths.
Dealing with the menace of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Fabius said this global threat required collective global response.
"ISIL militants have dishonestly presented themselves as representatives of Islam. When we fight those liars and killers, we protect Muslims in the first place because Muslim are the first victims of terrorism," he explained.
The French minister urged drying out the sources of financing for ISIL to deny the group the access to weapons, noting that he discussed this matter at the Kuwaiti National Assembly.
On the occasion of the golden jubilee of the diplomatic ties between the two countries, Fabius presented Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled an exact copy of the diplomatic accreditation of Kuwait's first ambassador to France signed by the then president Charles de Gaulle.
On his part, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled welcomed Fabius' first visit to Kuwait on the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between the two countries as indicative of the special status of France in the eyes of the Kuwaiti leaders and people.
"The bilateral ties kept growing over the past five decades and became and example of international relations for other countries to follow," he said.
Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled noted that he and Minister Fabius have been granted a audiences with His Highness the Amir and His Highness the Prime Minister and heard "wise visions and instructions for strengthening further the bilateral ties.
"We have held in-depth talks with the French minister and his party on a range of issues relating to cooperation and coordination in various domains," he pointed out, noting that the regional developments featured prominently in the talks.
"France is a key economic partner of Kuwait and ranks tenth in terms of the bilateral trade volume," he said, noting that the trade volume with France hit nearly USD two billion.
France, with Kuwaiti investments amounting to USD 11 billion, is the third largest destination of Kuwaiti investments in Europe, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled went on.
He highlighted the role of France, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, in solving key issues of the Middle East such as the stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the Syrian conflict as well as the conflicts in Iraq, Yemen and Libya.
"The two sides hold identical view on such issues as the anti-terror combat," he said, renewing condemnation of the recent terrorist attacks in France.
Kuwait will be hosting the third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria on March 31, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled added, expressed regret over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Arab country.