…as Jagdeo visits Middle East
KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait — President Bharrat Jagdeo and his delegation arrived to a red carpet welcome early Sunday morning in Kuwait City where the flags of Kuwait and Guyana flew across the city.
At the airport to receive the Guyanese Head of State was a large Kuwaiti delegation led by the ruler of Kuwait, the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Speaker of Kuwait National Assembly, Jassem Muhammed Al-Kharafi, Deputy Chief of the National Guard, Sheikh Meshaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, top state officials and top commanders of army, police and national guard.
President Jagdeo and the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah held official talks at Al Bayan Palace, after a reception for Jagdeo and his delegation.
The two leaders discussed a wide range of bilateral and global issues, but the meeting focused primarily on means to develop bilateral relations between Guyana and Kuwait, according to the Amiri Diwan Minister, Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
Among those present at the meeting were members of the Guyanese delegation and acting Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
The Guyanese Head of State, on a two-day official visit to Kuwait, had a packed programme. Later in the day, he met with the First Vice President of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hilal Meshari Al-Mutairi and members of the chamber of Commerce.
Looking to bring Kuwaiti investors to Guyana, Jagdeo also met with managing Director of the Public Investment Authority, Bader Mohammad Al-Saad, and Hisham Al-Wugayana, the Deputy Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED). The meeting, held at Jagdeo’s guest residence at Bayan Palace, was attended by the head of protocol, the Advisor at the Amiri Diwan (Royal Palace), Mohammad Abul Hassan according to the Kuwaiti News Agency (KUNA).
Three bilateral agreements in areas of culture and economics were signed between the Guyanese Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and her Kuwait counterpart.
The Amir of Kuwait will appoint a non-resident ambassador to Guyana. However, Guyana must settle outstanding loans with Kuwait taken during the previous PNC government. This has hindered relationships with Kuwait, the UAE and Libya.
Guyana must continue to hold dialogue with these countries to find an amicable solution which is another reason that has brought the Guyanese president to the Middle East.
Jagdeo also held meetings with Speaker of the National Assembly of Kuwait, Jassem Al-Kharafi, and acting Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
Later that evening, the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah held a dinner banquet in honour of President Jagdeo and the delegation accompanying him at Al Bayan Palace.
Guyana, a former British colony and South America’s only English speaking country is inhabited by less than a million people, and is culturally linked to the Middle East. Guyana has a vibrant Muslim population of about 12 percent. Since independence from Great Britain in 1966, Guyana has forged close ties with the Middle.
Also, Guyana is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) which has led to stronger ties with Islamic countries. President Jagdeo is keen to cement these ties with the Islamic World, one of the reasons why he is visiting Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran during this tour.
Jagdeo has promised his countrymen that every effort will be made to bring much needed development to Guyana in the next ten years. It is this vision that brings the president to the Middle East, seeking new investments from “capital exporting countries such as Kuwait, Iran and the United Arab Emirates,” according to Jagdeo.
This visit to the Middle East is his third since taking office in 1999 and in line with his emphasis on “economic diplomacy.” Guyana wants to market itself as the gateway to Caricom (Caribbean nations) and Latin America, now that a bridge connects Guyana to Brazil, and a new highway links Suriname to Guyana via a ferry service has recently been completed by the European Union.
Guyana has an abundance of fertile land and aims to attract Gulf investment in its agricultural sector. As well, the country has a potentially vast reserve of unexplored offshore oil and is looking to Iran, Kuwait and Libya to assist and invest in oil exploration.
Guyana/Kuwaiti ties are strong. Guyana, a small state like Kuwait, in 1990 swiftly condemned Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and called on Iraq to end the occupation of Kuwait. Former leader of Guyana, Cheddi Jagan, visited Kuwait in 1996. Kuwait’s Zakat House funds an orphan programme in Guyana since the 1980s.
In January 2003, Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Kuwait, Bader-Al Mutairi, visited Guyana and paid a courtesy call on President Jagdeo. During their meeting they discussed key areas of economic co-operation in which Guyana and Kuwait can be engaged with fostering of amicable relations.
More recently, President Jagdeo met with Director of Projects of Zakaat House, Adel Jaree and members of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG) at his State House residence, where he presented a plaque to Jaree in recognition of the Government of Kuwait and Zakaat House’s support to Guyana.
Jagdeo was scheduled to leave Kuwait on Monday evening for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (By R.S. Chickrie in Kuwait)
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