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HH PM visit to India will boost bilateral ties to new heights - experts
November 2, 2013, 11:13 am

Two political experts suggested here that a visit of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah would carry to "new heights" Kuwaiti-Indian bilateral diplomatic relations.

Professor at the Centre for West Asian studies at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi, Rafiullah Azmi said that the visit of HH the prime minister would strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries which have been otherwise mainly focused on trade and commerce.
"This visit would add strength to the multi-dimensional relationship of India with Kuwait," Azmi who is expert in the Middle East affairs told KUNA. "His Highness' visit to India would take the bilateral and strategic relations between India and Kuwait to new heights." Noting that political visits by high dignitaries between both countries, to an extent, have been rare, he said that the visit by HH the prime minister has assumed a greater significance in a political context.

"If we go back, in the 60s and 70s the political visits by both countries were rare. But this changed after the 1990s, he observed, emphasizing that the relationship between the two countries has now assumed a "strategic and security dimension as well." Azmi recounted that India has had historical relations with Kuwait for decades. Being one of the biggest traders of oil with India, he also stressed that Kuwait has always been an important strategic partner of his country.

Political relations between the two countries have also assumed significance after India started to emerge as a power in the continent, added the Middle East expert.

"India is also a major foreign player in the region. It can use its influence in the region to stabilize fluid political realities," Azmi said. "The two countries can thus further strengthen their relationship in view of the emerging geo-political realties in the Middle East region." "The proposed visit of Kuwaiti Prime Minister would thus not only boost trade relations, but also political and strategic relations between the two countries," he added.

According to information released by the Indian Foreign Ministry, the first high-profile visit from Kuwait included those by the then Crown Prince and Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah in 1964, the late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in 1980 and again in 1983, and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in 2006.

From the Indian side, Vice President Dr Zakir Husain visited Kuwait in 1965, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1981 and recently Vice President Shri Hamid Ansari in 2009.

Shedding light on the importance of the visit, Prof Kumar Swamy Polur Raman, who heads the Middle East Institute at the New Delhi-based Jawahar Lal University, said it would cement relations between the two sides.

There were some aberrations in relations between the two countries in the 1990s, but now, he said, political cooperation has been as close as it could have ever been.

"The visit of the Kuwaiti Prime Minister to India is itself a testimony of good relations between the two countries," he said.
Raman noted that the Indian engagement with Kuwait has both economic and political dimensions.

"By hosting the Kuwaiti Prime Minister, the Indian state has shown how much it values the Kuwaiti state," he said, adding, "India values the Kuwaiti leadership and long term political and economic relationship based on constructive engagement with the country." He said the visit of the prime minister would strengthen the political and economic relationship between the two countries.

"The political engagement would be backed by substantial economic engagement," he said. "India would look forward to the visit to see Kuwaiti investments in infrastructure." India would also look forward to cooperation in several sectors like petro-chemical industries, infrastructure, and other areas of mutual interest, he added.

In recent years various high-level exchanges have taken place between the two countries to strengthen the bilateral cooperation in politics, trade and other mutually accepted areas like culture, science and technology, civil aviation, joint ministerial commissions and so on, he said.
Only this year, Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al- Sabah visited India from March 10 to 13.

During the visit, he met India's Vice President, Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, besides having private meetings with the UPA Chairperson Rahul Gandhi, read details provided by the foreign ministry on Indo-Kuwait relations.

"Similarly Sheikh Ahmad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah, Minister of Oil and Minister of Information of Kuwait, visited India from September 25 to28, 2010. He inaugurated the "Sabah Cultural Library" at the India Arab Cultural Centre in Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi - the first and largest cultural project by Kuwait in India," the foreign ministry said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of Kuwait Faisal Al-Hajji Bukhadour , accompanied by the Under Secretary of the Civil Service Commission Mohammed Al-Roomi, paid an official visit to India to meet his counterpart, Minister of State for Personnel from February 3 to 7 in 2009.

Dr. Ibrahim Alabdelhadi, Ministry of Health Under Secretary, visited India on in mid-2012 and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on health at New Delhi.

High dignitaries from the Indian side have also visited Kuwait in recent years, including the Minister of External Affairs in early 2010, who met the Amir, HH the Prime Minister, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kuwait. This stand-alone visit to Kuwait was his first visit to the Gulf region since assuming his post.

The Indian minister visited Kuwait again in February 2011, to attend celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Kuwait, the 20th anniversary of its Liberation and fifth anniversary of the Amir's Ascendancy, added the ministry.

In mid-2012, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of India's Planning Commission visited Kuwait to reinvigorate economic relations, and met HH the Amir, the Finance Minister, the Minister for Amiri Diwan, and Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) and Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) officials.

A year later, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed visited Kuwait to represent his country at the High-Level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference on Syria and to attend the Asia Cooperation Dialogue.


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