KUWAIT CITY, Feb 6: The Australian Ambassador to Kuwait Melissa Kelly says Kuwait and Australia are celebrating this year the 50th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relationship. She affirmed that the celebrations will be different and will focus particularly on the diplomatic activities between the two countries, indicating that the historic visit of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to Australia in 1992 will be a focal point for thought and contemplation.
During a press conference held the day before yesterday evening, Ambassador Kelly said, “This was the first visit of its kind by a Kuwaiti ruler to Australia. I look forward to witnessing this year’s visits from Kuwaiti ministers to Australia and an increase in visits by Australian ministers to Kuwait. “Many things represent the pivotal threads in the fabric of our partnership. Behind our cooperation in the fields of food security, investment, education, and other fields, some names and personalities enabled that cooperation. For this reason, the Australian embassy’s social media accounts will be highlighting the “50 Stories for 50 Years” campaign throughout 2024.”
In response to a question regarding Australia’s gradual end to the export of live sheep by sea, she explained that the Australian government had announced in 2022 its intention to gradually end the export of live sheep by sea. This will not begin in the government’s current term (meaning it will not begin before mid-2025), as an independent committee will provide guidance to the government on the details of the phasing-out. The committee has yet released no report. There is close consultation with Kuwait regarding the details of the gradual end of the export. The ambassador reassured that Australia is committed to remaining the ideal partner for Kuwait to ensure its food security, adding that Australian meat will be present during Ramadan and there will be no shortage of it, through coordination with the Kuwaiti government, the livestock company, and the Embassy of Kuwait in Australia. When asked about the situation of the Australian community in Kuwait, she said, “We have about 800 people working in various fields such as oil, education, and various other professions. Some have been in Kuwait for a long time, some are married to Kuwaitis, and some live with their families in Kuwait.”
Regarding whether there were any discussions about lifting visas for Kuwaitis to enter Australia, she said, “Unfortunately, there are none at present. Visa applications must be submitted online because we do not issue entry visas through our embassy in Kuwait, but rather through our mission in Dubai.” When asked about the military cooperation between the two countries, the ambassador said Australia is interested in the security of Kuwait and the Gulf region as a whole, adding that Australia had assisted in liberating Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion. She affirmed that this cooperation continues, with the presence of several Australian soldiers in Camp Arifjan, which does not exceed ten soldiers, indicating that this number changes constantly. Ambassador Kelly denied the existence of any discussions between the two sides to conclude deals to purchase weapons, stressing that her country is ready to support Kuwait if there is a Kuwaiti desire.
She said, “We have limited participation in securing the Red Sea at present. We are working with the government of Kuwait and the governments of the Gulf states to provide military security for the region.” Regarding the volume of Kuwaiti investments in her country, the ambassador explained that, “According to official statistics, the amount of investment has reached about 30 billion Australian dollars. However, I believe that the real value is greater than that and perhaps twice this amount, given that it is difficult to monitor all Kuwaiti investments. These investments are diversified in the field of solar energy, wind energy, and food security. Concerning the number of Kuwaiti students studying in Australia, she indicated that 400 Kuwaiti students are studying in Australia and they are well integrated into Australian society, affirming that, although the number is small, they contribute to transferring Australian culture to Kuwait.
Meanwhile, the Australian ambassador highlighted her country’s position on what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the funding of UNRWA. She said, “We are closely following what is happening there. This is what was expressed by our country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, who called for the necessity of protecting civilians and delivering humanitarian aid. Since October 7, Australia has increased aid to UNRWA to approximately 46 million Australian dollars. We work on cooperating with it, as it is the only organization in the United Nations capable of delivering aid. However, at present, funding has been suspended due to what happened, as the catastrophic crisis in Gaza confirms the need for a political solution to the conflict
By Fares Al-Abdan
Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff
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