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HH PM visit to India extremely significant, says Kuwaiti Ambassador
November 2, 2013, 8:45 am
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Terming the visit of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to India starting November 7 as extremely significant, Kuwaiti Ambassador to India Sami Al-Sulaiman said the visit would provide the opportunity for both countries to discuss their bilateral diplomatic and economic relations threadbare.

During his visit to India, His Highness the Prime Minister would be accompanied by a big delegation comprising of the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Minister of Commerce and Industry Anas Al-Khaled and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Oil Mustafa Al-Shamali, said the ambassador.

"A high-level business delegation notably comprising of CEOs of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) and Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) would be also accompanying His Highness the prime minister," Sulaiman told KUNA in an interview, adding, "members of Kuwaiti business chambers and leading business companies are also the part of delegation." He said India has accorded a state-level welcome to the incoming visit.

"It will be a remarkable visit. It would help in intensifying the relationship between Kuwait and India," Sulaiman noted.
Detailing the itinerary of the visit, His Excellency said that the Kuwaiti side has prepared a list of topics for discussion with the Indian side. He said Kuwait's emphasis would be on constructive political and economic engagement with India.

"The Indian side has prepared a very important schedule for His Highness the Prime Minister. On his arrival to India, he will meet the Indian president (Pranab Mukherjee) and vice president (Mohammad Hamid Ansari) and will hold bilateral talks with the Indian prime minister (Manmohan Singh)." Apart from that, Sulaiman said the Kuwaiti prime minister will be holding a number of meetings with India's Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, Finance Minister P Chiadambaram and Oil Minister Veerapa Moily.

"His Highness will also address Indian business bodies including Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM)." Sulaiman said that His Highness the Prime Minister is also expected to hold detailed discussions on a number of regional political and strategic issues.

"Kuwait will discuss issues of the Gulf, Palestine, Syria and Egypt and exchange views with India in this regard," he said, adding, "we will affirm our stance to give India permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council." He noted that Kuwait would take consideration of the Indian engagement in preserving global security.

Shedding light on India-Kuwait business relations, the ambassador said that India was the second biggest importer of oil from Kuwait.
"In 2012, Kuwait exported oil worth USD 15.7 billion," he revealed. "We (Kuwait) import food items, garments, textiles from India," he said, adding that Kuwait is a main share holder in a number of leading Indian companies.

"During the visit of His Highness, Kuwait would explore options to invest in the infrastructure sector in India. We would be joining the Mumbai-Delhi industrial corridor of India," he said.

Sulaiman said that Kuwait has 12 areas of cooperation with India including long term oil export, fertilizers sector, upstream and downstream activities, and research activities.

"We want to expand this cooperation with India into a broad based one. We want to cooperate in establishing joint ventures with India" he said. "We would like to have cooperation in education and diplomacy." Noting to the accompanying Kuwaiti business delegation, he said they would exchange detailed discussions with their Indian counterparts.

On tourism cooperation, he said: "We also want to promote India as an ideal destination. We want to increase the Kuwait aviation flights from five to nine in India.

"Currently Kuwaiti aircrafts are carrying passengers to Delhi, Bombay, Cochin, Trivandrum and Hyderabad. Now we want our planes to fly to added destinations including Ahmadabad, Goa, Calicut, and Bangalore." Lauding Indian manpower for its contributions in Kuwait, the ambassador said that 655,000 skilled, semi-skilled, and non-skilled Indians are currently working in Kuwait.

"This Indian manpower generates USD 3-4 billion in remittances annually," Sulaiman said. Kuwait and India have also set-up a joint working group aimed at responding to the queries of the Indian manpower, he added.

Recounting the history of Kuwaiti-Indian relations, the ambassador said that there has been an exchange of high-level visits between the two countries since Kuwait gained its independence in 1961.

"India was the fifth country to recognize the independence of Kuwait," he said, "India opened its mission in Kuwait in 1962 as Kuwait opened its mission in India in 1964." He said the then crown prince visited India in 1964, and that after exactly 50 years His Highness the Kuwaiti prime minister will again visit the country.

"This signifies the friendship between the two countries. Kuwait appreciates the principle standing of India," Sulaiman concluded.

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