The Kuwaiti-British committee tasked with bolstering bilateral relations was due to hold a meeting in Kuwait last week but it was delayed till early next year, the British Ambassador to Kuwait Matthew Lodge has disclosed.
The ambassador, in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily newspaper, “Al-Kuwaityah,” published on Sunday, said a large number of agreements would be signed during the meeting, forecast in February, covering cooperation in health, commercial, security and defense fields.
The meeting had been delayed because it coincided with the recently held GCC summit, he indicated.
Ambassador Lodge disclosed that number of British citizens in Kuwait is estimated at 6,000, and may be a little higher, noting that many Britons often come to the country to work in companies according to limited time contracts, in addition to teachers who serve for a certain period of time.
Turning to commercial cooperation, the ambassador said the trade exchanges between Kuwait and Britain is estimated at USD three billion, which is not a large figure, as he said, adding that it could be doubled in coordination with the Kuwaiti Investment Office in London.
Asked about estimated value of Kuwaiti businesses in Britain, he indicated that the Kuwaiti Investment Office in London is involved in enterprises worth $30 billion, in addition to investments by Kuwaiti individuals.
On democracy in Kuwait, Lodge said the democratic system in the country “is worth our full support,” indicating that democracy could be
tangibly sensed with the activities held by the parliament and the public diwaniyas.
Ambassador Lodge affirmed that with the planned issuance of the UK e-visa, in the first half of next year, Kuwaitis will be able to visit the UK easily, noting that up to 125,000 Kuwaitis went to Britain last year.
On the Middle East, he confirmed the UK is seeking along with other powers to pressure all concerned parties to resolve the regional conflict, and that is through cessation of construction of Israeli settlements and finding a just settlement to the Palestinian cause. However, he affirmed that the British government remained against recognition of a unilateral Palestinian state, in spite of a step that had been taken in this regard by the parliament.
Regarding Iran, the ambassador expressed his belief that the “the Western rapprochement with Iran would not be at the expense” of Britain’s solid bonds with the GCC states.
On the super powers’ campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), he expressed his belief that the allied powers would ultimately defeat the ISIL, however this should be part of a strategy to create a “positive political atmosphere in Iraq” where all parties would be able to take part in political decision making.