KUWAIT CITY, Dec 16 (KUNA): NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the tailored training and practical support provided by NATO to all Gulf countries.
This came during a speech Monday marking the 15th anniversary of Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) ceremony held in Kuwait. Stoltenberg expressed appreciation for the support given by the Gulf partners to NATO-led operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
He also welcomed that NATO and its Gulf partners cooperate closely within the Global Coalition to Defeat DAESH. “I am proud of the cooperation that has taken place between our nations and I very much look forward to deepening our partnership in the future,” he said.
Stoltenberg also expressed gratitude for the hospitality and the superb support during his current visit to Kuwait. This is the second time in two years that the North Atlantic Council is meeting here in Kuwait, he noted. “We are here together to celebrate 15 years of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. And to discuss how we all can work even more closely together for the benefit of our mutual security,” he said.
The launch of the Initiative at the NATO Summit in 2004, sent a powerful signal, he added. “We share common interest and common challenges. Not least fighting international terrorism, and maintaining stability for trade and commerce,” he said.
Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have recognised the importance of dialogue and practical cooperation with NATO, he pointed out. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman have also increased their engagement with NATO allies, he stressed. “This is vital, because the closer our cooperation, the safer we all will be,” he added.
For 15 years, NATO has engaged in regular consultation and practical cooperation with all Gulf partners at all levels. Individual Partnership Cooperation Programmes have brought structure and focus to cooperation with Istanbul Cooperation Initiative partners, he added.
Under these agreements, a wide range of bilateral activities have taken place, including on energy and maritime security, cyber defence, civil emergency planning, and non-proliferation and arms control.
Some of these activities have been facilitated by the Regional Centre here in Kuwait, Stoltenberg noted. “To maintain our security, we need to be agile and prepared to respond to threats coming from all directions. From land, sea, air, space and cyber-space. From all directions. Also from State and non-state actors,” he confirmed.
Kuwait Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah has been a solid supporter of relationship and partnership with NATO and within the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), National Security Bureau (NSB) Chief Sheikh Thamer Ali Al-Sabah said Monday. Sheikh Thamer was addressing a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of NATO-ICI held at NATO-ICI Regional Centre under Patronage of His Highness the Prime Minister, and attended by NATO member countries and the Alliance’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. “His Highness has in the past, been the driving force behind our relationship with NATO and will remain one of its staunchest supporters in the future,” Sheikh Thamer added.
In a speech delivered on behalf of His Highness the Prime Minister, Sheikh Thamer conveyed warm greetings of His Highness the Prime Minister to all those in attendance, wishing NATO, the ICI and the GCC success and growth in the days to come. “I would like to extend our sincerest gratitude and apopreciation to His Highness the Prime Minister for his gracious patronage of this distinguished event,” Sheikh Thamer said.
The gathering today is to celebrate 15 years of an exemplary partnership that has merged the requirements of a region confronted with complex security challenges and the capabilities of a historic Alliance, Sheikh Thamer stressed.
In 2004 with the launching of the ICI, the state of Kuwait found itself mirrored by the ideas presented by the Initiative, striving towards global and regional peace and stability, he added. “The State of Kuwait and other ICI countries found in the ICI a means to engender those ends. Since then we have worked diligently with our partners in Brussels to meet those goals,” he said.
In 2006, Kuwait hosted the first NATO Gulf conference with the North Atlantic Council (NAC) in attendance. During the NAC-ICI meeting in 2012, Kuwait committed to building a NATO-ICI regional centre, Sheikh Thamer said. In 2017, NATO-ICI the regional centre serves to provide personnel from the Kingdom of Bahrain, Qatar, UAE in addition to the Sultanate of Oman and Saudi Arabia with training courses and events that reflect NATO’s expertise in a multiplicity of different fields both civil and military, Sheikh Thamer added in his speech.
The vision is also to enhancing the partnership with the State of Kuwait and NATO through the ICI framework, he added. “A mission of providing ICI state personnel with NATO Experience. The NATO ICI regional centre has to this day successfully completed 24 courses and 10 various events, with 889 trainees successfully completing programmes since late 2017,” he said. “More than 200 experts passing through the building and in the center and will remain a hallmark of the success story, bringing together the State of Kuwait, ICI members and NATO,” Sheikh Thamer stressed.