KUWAIT: First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al- Hamad Al-Sabah (right) speaks during a joint press conference with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The German foreign minister hailed long-standing and distinguished economic relations between Germany and Kuwait, adding that Germany would like to strengthen this successful relationship. "Kuwait is important for the Federal Republic of Germany," Sigmar Gabriel said during a joint press conference with his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah at the foreign ministry on Tuesday, stressing the importance of selecting Kuwait as the first leg of his trip to the Middle East.

On bilateral talks with Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled, he said opinions were exchanged on many issues in the region. "We have common positions regarding the Syrian crisis in finding a peaceful solution and involving all parties to the conflict," he said, referring to Russia and the United States, as well as Gulf-Iran consultations.

He stressed the great role and efforts exerted by Kuwait on the Yemeni crisis. He said Germany feels responsible for providing support, which would boost international and regional efforts to resolve the problem. "If the countries of the world contribute as much as Kuwait's contribution towards humanitarian action, progress would be significant," Gabriel said.

He said Germany wants to contribute to strengthening security in Iraq by training security and police forces to achieve stability in liberated areas and rebuilding and maintaining Iraq's unity. He revealed that there would be a chance during the Gulf consultative summit in mid-May to discuss means of creating a platform for this dialogue.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled lauded the strategic relations with Germany that were established more than 50 years ago. He also expressed appreciation for the key role by Germany in helping Kuwait achieve development. He said Germany is Kuwait's strong trading partner in the European Union, where the average trading volume between Germany and Kuwait is about $1.5 billion annually, while Kuwaiti investments in Germany hit $31.5 billion. He stressed that Kuwaitis are looking forward to boosting cooperation in all sectors.

"Germany provided big contributions to help Syrians during the three conferences hosted by Kuwait in 2013, 2014 and 2015, in addition to the London and Brussels conferences," he noted. Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled praised the German role in finding peaceful solutions to several regional and international issues. On Iran, he said: "We and GCC countries are convinced that Iran is a key country in the region, and the existence of normal relations between Iran and GCC states would benefit our countries and the region generally."

By Faten Omar