Emir of Kuwait pays fruitful official visit to Lebanon

President Sleiman stresses Lebanon’s keenness to establish peace in the region

Sheikh Sabah expresses Kuwait’s support for Lebanon in the face of crises

Parliament Speaker Berri, Prime Minister Hariri hail Kuwait’s support for Lebanon

Emir of Kuwait lays floral wreath over Martyrs Memorial

President Michel Sleiman and Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah stressed Tuesday their commitment to strengthening Lebanese-Kuwaiti bilateral ties, particularly on the economic and commercial levels.

Prior to a dinner banquet held at the Baabda Presidential Palace in honor of the Kuwaiti emir, a Kuwaiti delegation ratified with its Lebanese counterpart a series of agreements to promote economic, commercial and cultural cooperation.

Sleiman, who welcomed earlier Tuesday Sheikh Sabah at Rafik Hariri’s international airport, discussed with his guest the latest developments on the Lebanese and regional scenes amid ongoing Israeli threats against Lebanon.

“The Arab states emphasize the need to establish a nuclear free zone in the Middle East and to force Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty away from double standards,” Sleiman said in reference to the Iranian nuclear program.

Addressing the Lebanese and Kuwaiti delegations at the Baabda Palace, Sleiman added that Lebanon as a member of the United Security Council would pursue its efforts to force Israel into the implementation of Resolution 1701, which put an end to the summer 2006 war with Israel.

“Lebanon, however, would retain its right to liberate its occupied territories through all legitimate and available means while pursuing national dialogue to reach consensus on a defense strategy,” Sleiman added.

Sleiman also praised Kuwait’s funding of development projects in Lebanon following the 34-day summer 2006 war with Israel.

He also praised the Gulf country’s role in promoting Arab reconciliation, “which strengthened Arab unity in face of Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.”

“We will continue to work together for the interests of both our countries, as well as to support just Arab causes and the Palestinian cause to guarantee a just comprehensive peace in the Middle East,” Sleiman said.

“Kuwait was never hesitant to offer decent standards of living to around 100,000 Lebanese, despite their religious differences,” he added.

Lebanon has benefited from over $300 million in Kuwaiti assistance over the past years but requires additional help in the water, transportation and energy sectors, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who attended the dinner at the Baabda Palace, said on Monday.

For his part, Sheikh Sabah stressed Kuwait’s commitment to promoting cooperation with Lebanon on economic levels and highlighted the important impact of political stability and security on the economic situation.

Sheikh Sabah held talks with Lebanese politicians and supervised the signing of more bilateral agreements between his country and Lebanon on Wednesday.

Kuwait’s deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah and Prime Minister Saad Hariri signed a series of agreements at the Grand Serail ahead of a dinner banquet to honor the visiting Kuwaiti delegation.

Addressing his guests, Hariri praised Kuwait’s role in promoting inter-Arab reconciliations amid regional challenges and threats.

The Kuwaiti emir, meanwhile, pledged continued Kuwaiti funding to Lebanon’s developmental projects while voicing hope that ongoing political and security stability would help boost economic growth in the country.

Lebanon has benefited from over $300 million in Kuwaiti assistance over the past years but requires additional help in the water, transportation and energy sectors.

Earlier Wednesday Premier Hariri had paid a visit to the Kuwaiti rulers at his residence at the Habtoor Hotel in Sin al-Fil.

“I visited His Highness to thank him for the support Kuwait has offered to Lebanon,” Hariri said after the meeting. Also on Wednesday, Speaker Nabih Berri hosted Sheikh Sabah for lunch at his residence in Ain al-Tineh.

The speaker said Israeli accusations of sophisticated weapons transfer to Hezbollah were an attempt to divert attention away from the deadlock witnessed on the peace negotiations front.

“A nuclear Israel is trying to convince the world that [military] balance in the Middle East had been shaken after accusations against the resistance in Lebanon of acquiring long-range missiles,” Berri said.

The speaker underlined that Israel “inflicted massive destruction on Lebanon during the July 2006 and was still arming with the most up to date defense systems while complaining against Lebanon to divert attention as Israelis tear down mosques and churches in Palestine and expand settlement plans.”

On Tuesday, President Michel Sleiman criticized during a meeting with the Kuwaiti emir Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and called for the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.

“The Arab states emphasize the need to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East and to force Israel to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty away from double standards,” Sleiman said in reference to the Iranian nuclear program.

Praising Sheikh Sabah, Berri highlighted Kuwait’s role in uniting the Arab states’ position behind the Palestinian cause by promoting dialogue and consensus among Arabs.

The speaker also praised Kuwait’s funding of development projects in Lebanon following the 34-day summer 2006 war with Israel.

Berri also stressed the importance of Kuwait’s ongoing commitment to the implementation of the Litani project, hoping that the Kuwaiti emir’s visit would be an opportunity to re-launch the project.

For his part, Sheikh Sabah called for promoting cooperation between the two countries on economic, trade, investment and cultural levels as well as parliamentary cooperation.

The Kuwait ruler also called for pursuing efforts aimed at boosting bilateral relations so that Lebanese-Kuwaiti ties remain a model to be followed.

Sheikh Sabah left Beirut for Kuwait Wednesday evening ending a two-day official visit.