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Kuwait vows GCC to keep operating despite crisis

Ties with US not affected over Jerusalem

Khaled Al-Jarallah

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday that the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council would continue to operate despite a row among three of its members and Qatar that it has unsuccessfully sought to mediate. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain plus non-GCC member Egypt cut off diplomatic, travel and trade ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting militants and their arch-foe Iran. Doha denies the charges and says their move is aimed at curtailing its sovereignty.

Western nations have called for the countries, which are all close US allies, to settle their differences in talks. The heads of state from the three boycotting countries skipped a GCC summit hosted by Kuwait’s ruler in December, and the UAE called for the formation of a bilateral committee with Saudi Arabia on economic, political and military issues.

But Kuwait appears determined to preserve the loose union set up in 1980 as a bulwark against larger neighbors Iraq and Iran, and said its reconciliation efforts would proceed. Despite the spat which appears to have no end in sight, the GCC’s work “will not be frozen or disrupted”, Khaled Al-Jarallah was quoted by state news agency KUNA as telling reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Kuwait. “After the summit in Kuwait, we are not worried about the future of the council,” Jarallah added. “Mediation efforts have not stopped, and a breakthrough will be achieved one day.”

Jarallah also affirmed Kuwaiti-US relations have not been jeopardized by Kuwaiti opposition to the US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel. Relations between the two countries are strategic and extend to partnership in various realms, Jarallah told reporters at the Saud Al-Nasser Al-Sabah Diplomatic Institute. Kuwait has clarified its stance and conveyed its concerns to the American side, he noted. On Dec 6, US President Donald Trump recognized the occupied Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and decided to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On the same day, the Kuwaiti foreign ministry expressed profound regret over the US decision. – Agencies

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