Kuwait is poised to make another history in its relations and cooperation with NATO by hosting the 15th anniversary celebrations of NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI).
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will lead the North Atlantic Council (NAC), which includes the permanent representatives of the 29-member Alliance, to Kuwait in December to celebrate the anniversary, according to Kuwaitآ’s ambassador to NATO, EU, Belgium and Luxembourg Jassem Al Budaiwi.
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This emerged following a meeting of the ambassadors of the four Arab Gulf members of ICI, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and UAE and the 29 NATO ambassadors at NATO headquarters Wednesday evening.
“It was an annual meeting where the four ICI countries sit with the 29 NATO ambassadors led by the Secretary General to discuss issues that have been achieved till now and the goals and future plans and how to enhance our cooperation,” Al Budaiwi told the Kuwait news agency, KUNA, in an interview today.
“This meeting was special because we discussed about the celebrations that Kuwait will host in December to mark the 15th anniversary of the launch of the ICI. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will lead the 29 members of NAC to Kuwait for this historic event,” he said.
“We look forward for a fruitful meeting in December,” he stated.
Kuwait had scored another history with NATO when on 24 January 2017 the NATO-ICI Regional Centre was opened in Kuwait city.
NAC led by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had travelled to Kuwait for the inaugural ceremony of the Centre.
“It is an honour for us that Kuwait is hosting this centre the only one of its kind outside the Euro-Atlantic area,” noted Al Budaiwi.
“Kuwait values its relations with NATO and looks forward to strengthen it further through its bilateral relationship, and through its ICI partnership with its brotherly countries Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE,” he said.
“We have excellent programmes and the NATO-ICI Regional Center has been hosting personnel from the ICI member states, plus Oman and Saudi Arabia, in training courses, workshops, seminars etc,” said the Kuwaiti ambassador.
“We are very proud of this and looking forward for the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the ICI in Kuwait,” Al Budaiwi added.
NAC has visited Kuwait twice, in 2006 and then in 2017, and this will be its third visit to Kuwait in December 2019.
Kuwaitآ’s new Defence Attache in Brussels, Major General Abdullah Dashti, also participated in the NAC-ICI meeting yesterday.
NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) was launched at the Alliance’s Summit in the Turkish city in June 2004 with the aim to contribute to long-term global and regional security by offering countries of the Arab Gulf region practical bilateral security cooperation with NATO.
Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE are the current four members of the ICI.
Kuwait and NATO had taken another significant step to strengthen bilateral relations when Kuwait inaugurated in November 2018 its first ever diplomatic mission to NATO in Brussels.
The ribbon-cutting inauguration ceremony was attended by Kuwait Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Khaled Al-Jarallah and NATO Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, Ambassador Alejandro Alvargonzalez.
Al-Jarallah had then said at the inaugural ceremony that Kuwait was the first member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to join NATO’s Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI).
He also recalled the vital role played by NATO when Kuwait was invaded and occupied by Iraq and in the process of liberating Kuwait.
On his part, Alejandro Alvargonzalez had said at the inaugural ceremony that “this is one more step that we have taken lately that coincides with all the efforts and all the splendid behaviour of Kuwait with NATO for which we are very happy.”
The North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the principal political decision-making body within NATO.
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