Kuwait sees better inter-Arab ties through conference

IRBIL: This picture released by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) yesterday shows aid workers distribute relief support offered by Kuwait to displaced Iraqis in coordination with Barzani Charity Foundation

KUWAIT: The three-day Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq (KICRI) kicks off today amid great aspirations by the Iraqis who eager for a positive outcome and tangible contributions that will help rebuild their war-torn country.

The conference, which is under the auspices of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, will bring together a number of economically powerful countries, as well as regional and international organizations that will focus on coming up with needed contributions to rebuild Iraq after many years of war and conflicts that ripped through various parts of the country.

The conference will also touch on several developments and vital aspects pertaining to Iraq, including the participation of the private sector in the reconstruction process. The World Bank, as a major contributor to the event, will provide the required investment guarantees for private companies and institutions to participate in the development of Iraq. Meanwhile, France announced yesterday that its Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is set to visit Kuwait tomorrow to attend the conference.

The conference will be co-chaired by Kuwait and Iraq, as well as the United Nations, European Union and the World Bank. It comes in the aftermath of liberating all Iraqi soil from the grips of the so-called Islamic State (IS); a war that left human and material losses. Iraq and its people are eager to rebuild the affected areas and establish humanitarian and developmental projects that will protect and rehabilitate the country's infrastructure.

The Iraqi delegation participating in the conference will have a working agenda on three main topics: reconstruction and investment, supporting stability in the country, and promoting peaceful coexistence among the different segments of Iraqi society. The first day of the conference will deliberate and assess the overall damage caused by the war and issues that need to be addressed, as well as projects to support stability, community reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.

The second day tackles procedures for creating a suitable environment for investment, through the showcasing of 212 projects in all sectors of the Iraqi economy, including projects in Iraq's Kurdistan region.

The third day, which will be attended by His Highness the Amir, the Iraqi Prime Minister, UN Secretary General, World Bank chief and European Union policy chief coordinator, will see the declaration on the overall contributions to Iraq. The conference also coincides with other major events, including a NGOs conference and the 'Invest in Iraq' meeting, which will be attended by representatives of hundreds of companies, including a large qualitative exhibition in which a group of public companies affiliated to the Iraqi Ministry of Industry, Minerals, will participate to highlight investment opportunities in this regard. Also in Kuwait, a ministerial meeting of the Anti-IS Coalition group will take place on February 13. The 73-member Coalition was established in September 2014.

Better ties

The conference represents an unprecedented opportunity to take ties between Arab nations to new levels, an official said yesterday. The "Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq is a path towards a brighter future in the Arab region," the Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Ali Al-Ghanem said during his meeting with a contingent of Iraqi journalists.

He pointed out that the conference aims to rebuild a nation that lies in tatters after years of warfare, citing a separate meeting over investment in Iraq, where a number of development projects in Baghdad are expected to be promulgated. On the 'Invest in Iraq' conference, Ghanem revealed that some 1,850 companies from 50 nations are set to participate, a testament to the magnitude of the event.

Meanwhile, Wafa Al-Qatami, a KCCI official, said the conference proves Kuwait's commitment to serving the best interests of the Arab region. Addressing a panel discussion involving Kuwaiti companies that plan to invest in Iraq, Al-Qatami noted that the conference could usher in an epoch of stability and peace for the entire region.

Dr Sami Al-Araji, Chairman of the National Investment Commission of Iraq, thanked Kuwait for the initiative, saying his country now has the chance to lure foreign investment after its military victory over the So-called Islamic State. He went on to tout the ample investment opportunities Baghdad has to offer, in sectors running the gamut from healthcare and education to the tourism industry.

Humanitarian situation

Today also witnesses the start of the Non-Governmental Organizations' (NGOs) Conference to Support the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq, which will focus on the latest developments and relief aid efforts in the war-torn Arab country. Upon directives from His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti Cabinet has tasked the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) with organizing "the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to Support the Humanitarian Situation in Iraq" on February 12, 2018.

The conference aims at mobilizing efforts locally, regionally, and globally for NGOs to support the humanitarian situation in the Iraqi areas affected by recent armed conflicts. IICO will host various sessions that will include prominent speakers from around the world to highlight their experiences on the humanitarian field. The IICO will also review the humanitarian situation in Iraq and announce pledges and contributions by participants.

IICO will also attempt to strengthen the humanitarian partnership among local, regional and international organizations in the face of the humanitarian challenges in Iraq. Around 70 humanitarian organizations, including 25 from Iraq and 15 from Kuwait, will partake in the conference.

IICO President Abdullah Al-Matooq, in recent statements, said that the conference aims also at tackling means of cooperation and the importance of international community in alleviating the humanitarian complications of disasters and conflicts, especially in Iraq.

He shed light on Kuwait's keenness on aid and support through its charitable societies, and affirmed that Kuwait will continue cooperating with the United Nations to support afflicted people suffering from the scourge of homelessness and displacement.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Higher Committee and IICO Director General Bader Al-Sumait highlighted the role of the Kuwait-based Organization in the conference. Sumait expressed readiness to host the conference and to support the humanitarian situation in Iraq, noting that such effort comes within the framework of Kuwait's pioneering humanitarian stance. Sumait also pointed out that IICO, has sent invitations to more than 100 local, regional and international organizations and many leading figures and active international organizations in the humanitarian field for the one-day conference. - KUNA