British govt to maintain military presence in Gulf


Speaking yesterday at a ceremony to conclude a three-day joint military exercise between Kuwait and the United Kingdom, British Defense Secretary Bob Ainsworth said, "We intend to maintain a substantive military presence in the region.

We will work to ensure Iraq re-integrates into the community of the Gulf States, settles disputes in a peaceful manner, and contributes towards progress and growth in the region.

Ainsworth said that his country will ensure that Iran recognizes its future is best served by co-operation and integration with the international community and peaceful co-existence with its neighbors. He added: "We will work with our friends in the region to secure a lasting settlement for peace in the Middle East, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians."

The ceremony was attended by Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, and dignitaries including ambassadors of the United Kingdom, United States, France, and Russia.

With regard to the British military mission in Kuwait, Ainsworth said that even though their military presence will remain, it will decline in numbers. "We are proud of the contribution the Mission makes to the Kuwait Joint Command and Staff College which is a centre of excellence in the region.

We are proud of the training delivered to the Kuwait Armed Forces, both in Kuwait and the United Kingdom," he said. He pointed out that UK Military operations (first) in Iraq (and now), Afghanistan has prevented them from taking full advantage of all joint training available in Kuwait. "We look forward to inviting Kuwaiti service personnel to learn, study, and share their experience at staff colleges in the UK," he said.

During a short news briefing, Kuwait Times asked whether there were new military agreements signed between Kuwait and UK, and Ainsworth disclosed that there are lots of opportunities available for that. "Our relationship with Kuwait is strong.

There are many different aspects to it and we continue talks about trade, co-operation, and training" He said that there was no doubt that the British Armed Forces had been very committed over the last six years and even though their ability to engage with all their allies was limited to some degree, they were determined for a real agreement to aid progress.

Ainsworth noted that the ceremony yesterday marked the beginning of a new chapter in their long, fruitful and enduring relationship between the two countries. "This year marks the 110th anniversary of the signing of the special Treaty of Friendship between Britain and Kuwait.

Our relationship is going from strength to strength. British exports to Kuwait rose by nearly a fifth last year, and Kuwaiti exports to Britain increased twice," He also revealed that Kuwait is among the largest single investors in the UK.

Acknowledging Ainsworth’s remarks, Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said that he will support any noble and humanitarian mission launched by their long-time friend and ally, the United Kingdom.


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