The inaugural meeting of the UK-Kuwait Joint Steering Group took place at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on 28 November 2012, and formed part of the State Visit to the UK of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber, the Amir of Kuwait.
The Joint Steering Group was launched by The Rt Hon William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, and His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, with the aim of further strengthening the ties between the two countries, across the board.
The group agreed to meet every six months under the leadership of Alistair Burt MP, Minister for the Middle East and South Asia, and His Excellency Khaled Sulaiman al Jarallah, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Reflecting the breadth of the bilateral relationship, the group discussed a range of issues, including trade and investment; migration; defence and foreign policy; and international development:
- On trade and investment, Ministers committed to seek out opportunities to strengthen commercial links between the UK and Kuwait and stressed the importance of encouraging the growth of business between the two countries. The Ministers welcomed the appointment of Baroness Morris as UK Trade Envoy to Kuwait, applauded Kuwait’s ambitious National Development Plan and agreed that UK companies had a vital role to play in supporting it.
- On defence and security, Ministers pointed to the close cooperation between the two countries, enshrined in a shared military history and a strong tradition of military officer exchanges, and committed to strengthening this partnership further in support of shared regional objectives. They agreed to build a strategic dialogue going forward, discuss cooperation on defence equipment and to increase training in the military field. It has been agreed that the UK will refurbish Kuwait’s Hawk trainer aircraft.
- On regional issues, Ministers discussed Israel/Palestine and the need for both sides to return to negotiations. Ministers agreed to work together to improve stability in the region, urging reconciliation in Syria and committing to coordinate closely to support political progress in Yemen.
- On international development, Alan Duncan MP, UK Minister for Development, held a separate bilateral meeting with the Kuwaiti Minister for Foreign Affairs. Recognising the role both countries already play, and committing to learn from each other’s experiences, they agreed to work together as partners on this globally important area.
Ministers also discussed prospective cooperation on migration, education and healthcare, and agreed to follow up progress across the board at their next meeting.