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Thursday , October 24 2019

Kuwait-French ties remain excellent: Ambassador

High-level visits being planned

French Ambassador Marie Masdupuy

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 7: Ambassador of France to Kuwait, HE Marie Masdupuy, held a press conference to discuss relevant bilateral and regional issues at the French Residence on Sunday morning.

She said that French-Kuwait relations remain excellent with a number of bilateral visits taking place in both directions in the last month, including a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. She informed that other ministerial and high-level visits were being planned in the coming months. “The agenda is quite rich and it is not surprising as we have many shared interests in so many areas,” she said.

She highlighted that the two countries shared active cooperation in areas of health, business, education, environment and judicial areas. She also welcomed the news of daily direct Kuwait airways flights to Paris as a step forward. Commenting on the short-term Schengen visa exemption for Kuwaitis, Ambassador Masdupuy remarked, “We have been advocating alongside a big majority of Schengen partners for Kuwait to benefit from a short-stay visa exemption. It was not an agenda in Brussels partly because the commission was in the end of process but we are now going to have a new commission and a new parliament and I think this issue is going to come rather quickly on the agenda.”

She remained very positive that the exemption would be adopted by Schengen member states and approved by the parliament noting that it was just a matter of having the issue put forth on the agenda of the relevant committees in Brussels and stated that results could be expected in a matter of months. She also noted that there will be other changes in Schengen visas for all countries and the Embassy is waiting for the implementation directives to enforce them.

Ambassador Masdupuy stated that the French Embassy continued to issue about 50,000-55,000 visas every year to Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis in Kuwait. She noted that they expect a slight decrease towards the end of 2019 as a result of the ongoing social movements in France which have impacted the country’s tourism industry.

She also added that as the Embassy issues many long duration, short-stay visas, for multiples visits, there are far more Kuwaiti tourists visiting France than the number of visas being issued.

Speaking on Kuwait’s tenure at the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, she stated, “We are coming closer to the end of Kuwait’s mandate as a non-permanent member. I can reassert and reaffirm how happy we have been to work with the Kuwaiti delegation in the UN Security Council, how constructive the work of our Kuwaiti colleagues in New York has been on every issue that has been on the agenda of the Security Council.”

She added that Kuwait had twice chaired the Security Council and she praised the programme for being always very rich, and corresponding to French expectations and interests. “We will miss Kuwait as a partner in the Security Council, we have been enjoying the close cooperation with Kuwait in New York, Paris and here in Kuwait on Security Council issues.”

Ambassador Masdupuy highlighted recent progress made between the two countries in education, “We are very pleased that the Ministry of Education has released a new list of accredited universities in France, it is a substantial list of 108 Universities which includes many more colleges and faculties.” She said that the current numbers of Kuwait students in France was low but these numbers are expected to improve as the new list will provide students with a larger choice of opportunities to go study in France – including institutions that offer English curricula, in different places and every possible area of study.

However, on the environmental front, the French ambassador expressed that she was unsatisfied that there has been no new development concerning the project of building a waste energy plant in Kuwait. “This has been lasting issue now for many years. The concerned companies have been expecting the final decision for a long time and it will be highly welcome if a positive decision would come any time soon.”

Ambassador Madsupuy also commented upon pertinent regional political issues including Iran and the freedom of navigation and maritime trade. She praised Kuwait’s historical diplomacy and commended the role Kuwait played as a balanced actor in international and regional relations. “As a non-permanent member of the Security Council, Kuwait has an even bigger stake in making sure that everybody understands the positions of other actors.” She added that France shares the same goals with Kuwait, “We will never accept a nuclear Iran, and this is why we crafted the nuclear agreement. We also aspire for an Iran which will have more responsible behaviour when it comes to regional issues and regional interference in crises in the MENA region. We also share a will to look beyond the JCPOA which will end in 2025 and have a more global agreement that will include nuclear non-proliferation issues, issues of regional security, and the ballistic missiles programme which is developed by Iran.”

She informed that it is President Emmanuel Macron’s outlook that any new global negotiation with Iran should include important regional countries such as Kuwait in the discussions. But she also stressed that they were still in the process of trying to find the conditions and principles around which concerned parties can come together around the table and noted that President Macron has been pursuing this issue actively on various fronts, such as the margins of the G7 summit, and the UN General Assembly meeting. She also stressed that France was committed to the freedom of navigation and maritime trade, “We were very distressed and unhappy with the incidents that started to take place since last May up to the attack on Aramco sites which are a threat to regional security. We have been thinking with all our partners of what we could do to guarantee the freedom of navigation and to deter any future attacks or incidents.” She said that the European countries are looking to establish naval surveillance mission as a deterrent for potential attackers, and shared that the EU did not see extra deployment of the nature proposed by the USA as the best solution. She also noted that Kuwait and France shared a lively and dense military cooperation from training and maintenance to organisation of common exercises. Ambassador Madsupuy also shared her thoughts on the topic of climate change and the Paris Agreement.

She noted that China and Russia are two very important countries that have quite a high percentage of contribution to climate change problems. “We highly welcome their ratification of the Paris agreement and contribution to ongoing discussions, it is not a finished process. We would like the agreement to become as universal as possible. Climate change issues are on the agenda of our discussions with all our partners in the world, including the USA. We are encouraged by local initiatives in the USA concerning these issues, and the role of American scientists in working on these issues to enlighten public opinion.”

By Cinatra Alvares Arab Times Staff

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