Kuwait and US deepen strategic ties and look for regional unity

Mike Pompeo says unity required for MESA to succeed

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) and Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah give a joint press conference in Kuwait City on March 20, 2019. Pompeo, who landed in Kuwait yesterday night, will push for a greater role for the Middle East Strategic Alliance, a US-sponsored Arab NATO aimed at uniting Washington's Arab alies against Tehran. 
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Kuwait's Foreign Minister Sabah Al Khalid on Wednesday discussed US-Kuwaiti security efforts with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The two attended the third US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue, which saw 23 government sectors from both sides agree to strengthen cooperation.

The deals include strategic partnerships, including the continued presence of US troops in Kuwait, educational and cultural partnerships and small and medium development pacts.

Mr Pompeo said a united GCC is needed if the US-backed Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) is “to come to full fruition". Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain’s boycott of Qatar in 2017 resulted in a cessation of diplomatic relations between the two sides.

The US has been coordinating with its GCC allies on the creation of MESA to serve as a Nato-style Arab force to counter Iranian influence in the region.

Despite two meetings on Mesa, one in Muscat in January and another in Washington in February, differences between members means there is still no road map in place.

“The United States truly appreciates the effort his Highness the Emir has put towards facilitating a resolution to the Gulf dispute, we all need a united GCC if the Middle East Strategic Alliance is to come to full fruition,” Mr Pompeo said.

Kuwait’s Emir Sabah Al Ahmed has played the role of chief mediator in the crisis, shuttling between the countries in search of a resolution. His country now serves as the main medium by which the two sides communicate.

Kuwait’s foreign minister says they will continue mediating the Gulf crisis and work towards a resolution to the almost two-year boycott “because, simply put, there is no alternative”.

“In terms of the Gulf crisis, we highly commend the efforts exerted by the US and their support for the Emir of Kuwait to reach a solution to this crisis, which we think will be resolved, because simply put, we have no alternative other than to solve this issue,” Sheikh Sabah told reporters in a joint press conference with Mr Pompeo.

The two also discussed the long-awaited Middle East Peace Process that Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s Special Adviser and son-in-law, has been preparing. Washington said the details of the long-awaited plan will be revealed after Israeli elections in April.

“This particular issue has been the subject of extensive discussion with Mr Pompeo, we have all the confidence that the friendly relations the US has with many states in the region will no doubt lead to an acceptable end agreement," said Sheikh Sabah Al Khalid .