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Kuwait foreign minister sees progress on maritime border with Iraq

February 19, 2023 at 1:18 pm

Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kuwait. [Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]

Kuwait and Iraq will hold a round of legal and technical talks on Sunday as they look to bring an end to a maritime border dispute, which if resolved would spur economic development between the states, Kuwait’s foreign minister said on Saturday, Reuters reports.

The land border between the two was demarcated by the United Nations in 1993 after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, but it did not cover the length of their maritime boundaries, and this was left for the two oil producers to resolve.

Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said the two sides would hold talks on Sunday and he was hopeful of progress.

“It’s very high priority for my government and we are working with Iraq to finalise the demarcation of that maritime border,” Al-Sabah said in an interview at the Munich Security Conference. He said their legal and technical teams were meeting on Sunday in search of a deal. “We are moving ahead.”

A deal could open the door to closer cooperation, from the construction of ports, management of border oil fields, and the general ease of trade and transport between the two states. Al-Sabah held talks with Iraq Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Munich on Friday.

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Kuwait is often seen as a mediating power in the region and has always been a supporter of the Palestinian cause. It has shied away from joining Gulf Arab neighbours, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, in formalising relations with Israel.

Asked whether that position could change, al-Sabah said the situation between Israel and the Palestinians was not getting better. He said the priorities were for the Palestinians to have a homeland and for there to be a two-state solution.

“The first Arab-Israeli peace deal was in 1979, more than 40 years ago and what has come of that? The Abraham Accords were done two years ago and what has come of that? The situation for the Palestinians is still as dire as it was ever before,” he told Reuters.

“I don’t see how the Abraham Accords are bringing closer a two-state solution,” he added, referring to a raft of agreements between Israel and Arab states in recent years.

Al-Sabah also said his country had no plans to follow other Arab states in re-engaging with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad despite the earthquake that has ravaged the country.

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