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KUWAIT OUTLINES HUMANITARIAN ROLE TO TERROR-HIT STATES
BRUSSELS, June 9, (Agencies): Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah attended the Anti-Islamic State coalition defence ministers’ talks at the NATO headquarters on Friday. Kuwait’s participation comes to ensure its commitment to the global efforts aimed at tackling terrorism and ensuring global security and stability under the directions of the Kuwaiti leadership.
The defence minister presented an explanatory report outlining Kuwait’s role within the coalition in providing humanitarian support to nations affected by terrorist groups. The meeting is aimed at reviewing ongoing plans made in relation to the ever-changing situations and most recent occurrences worldwide and to ensure that these plans are successfully implemented.
This particularly comes after the victories made by the coalition in its military campaign against the group, which have led to a significant loss in its numbers due to the success of cooperative global efforts. For his part, US Defence Secretary James Mattis praised Kuwait’s role in hosting the recently-held Iraqi reconstruction international donors’ conference.
Attending ministers also agreed to an “ideology” aimed at fighting terrorist and fundamentalist thought amid steps to limit the threat worldwide. John Nicholson, Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, on Friday said Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE can play a role to bring peace in the war-torn country. “I know that the Afghan president has approached those nations and asked for help in mediating to get a conversation started with the Taleban and the government. Yes they could play a very positive role,” he told a press conference at NATO. Replying to a question by the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Nicholson stressed that the role of the broader Islamic world is important in the peace process.
He noted that a meeting on Afghanistan was held in Indonesia recently and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold a meeting on Afghanistan in July.
The NATO general said many ulema in Afghanistan have supported the calls for peace by the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, who on Thursday announced a unilateral temporary ceasefire with the Taleban until the end of Eid al-Fitr, from June 12-19. But he clarified that the ceasefire offer is only for the Taleban and not for the so-called Islamic State (IS), al- Qaeda or other terrorist groups. On his part, speaking at a separate press conference, Afghanistan’s Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahram said the peace offer was not a sign of weakness on the side of the government but a goodwill gesture. “We want peace and we are hoping that the Taleban will respond quickly to the peace offer,” he added. Meanwhile, NATO defence ministers today concluded a two-day meeting in Brussels with a discussion of the Alliance’s training mission in Afghanistan, and its continuing support to the Afghan government and Afghan security force.
Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said that “NATO Allies and partners aren’t just maintaining their contributions to our Resolute Support Mission, they are increasing them,” he said. Mattis welcomed efforts by European NATO members and Canada to boost their defence spending, striking a conciliatory tone after months of tough talk from Washington. The thorny question of “burden sharing” — who foots the bill for defending Europe — loomed large at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, but announcements of increased European spending, particularly by Germany, look to have at least eased tensions with Washington.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly taken aim at European countries, particularly Germany, for not spending enough on defence, accusing them of leaving the United States to shoulder an unfair burden in NATO. Currently only three European countries are meeting a pledge made at the NATO summit in 2014 to spend two percent of GDP on defence — Britain, Greece and Estonia.
But alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg announced European NATO members and Canada are on course to increase their defence spending by 3.82 percent this year — the fourth consecutive annual rise. This, coupled with the news that Germany is increasing its military budget by three billion euros next year, and will have boosted it by 80 percent by 2024, have gone down well with the Pentagon chief, who hailed “significant progress” by the alliance.