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Kuwait-Iraq relations move in right direction

KUWAIT: Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Dr Hassan Al-Shahrastani called upon journalists and writers in Kuwait and Iraq to focus on the interests of the people of the two countries and publish the real picture to explain the link that connects the two neighbours, to help overcome the past and look forward to the peoples’ ambitions. Al-Shahrastani spoke during a reception hosted for the Kuwaiti media delegation that visited Iraq, accompanied by Iraqi Journalist Union leader Moayyid Al-Lami and a delegation from the union.

He emphasized on the need to take a responsible stand instead of raising old topics. Al-Shahrastani focused on the necessity to concentrate on the interests of the people of the two countries, and the political and economic aspects with a sincere intention to overcome the past and build the East Arab countries based on respect for freedom of expression. Al-Shahrastani said that there are issues which can pose problems for the two countries in the Iraqi Parliament and Kuwaiti National Assembly but also said that the right intention helps to solve the problems.

Regarding the issue of electricity in his country, he said that shortage in power was before 2003 and after the fall of the previous regime, the need for electrical power has increased greatly. He attributed this to the economy opening up and the rising income of the Iraqi families. He added that contracts have been signed to build new power stations with capacity that reaches 15,000 megawatts, and some of them have been functioning since last month while others are expected to work this month. Al- Shahrastani said that these stations are set to meet the power needs of his country.

Al-Shahrastani pointed that all these stations operate on gas, especially since the Baghdad government intends to increase oil production over the coming years. He pointed out that Kuwait needs Iraqi gas like Saudi and Oman, and explained that Iraqi government considers local demand as top priority in petrochemical industry and only after that, supplies to its neighbours. He hailed cooperation in the field of energy with Kuwait government as more than one contract has been signed with (Kuwait Energy) to develop the oil fields. One among them is the Ghazi field which is close to the Kuwaiti border and another field is close to the Iranian border. Al-Shahrastani added that he personally wanted to give the chance to Kuwaiti companies which he considered as good motivation for economic integration between both the countries.

Al-Shahrastani said oil reserves in Iraq are now at 143 billion barrels and this figure does not include possible reserves and expected reserves. Pointing that Iraqi government has signed oil contracts with large international companies to increase Iraqi production to 12 million barrels a day, he accused local authorities in Kurdistan province of attempting to smuggle oil, and revealed that the new attempt this time is via Turkey. About Kurdistan province reaching agreements with foreign companies directly, he said the Iraqi government’s stand is fixed and cannot change and is based on the constitution which states that oil and gas is the property of all Iraqis, and no party can contract to produce it and export it – except through the government.

The Kuwaiti media delegation included the Chairman of Kuwaiti Journalist Association Ahmad Yousuf Behbehani, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Anbaa Daily Yousuf Al- Marzouq, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Nahar Daily Emad Bu Khamseen, Chairman of Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) Rashed Al-Ruwaished, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Rai Daily Majid Al-Ali and Editor-in-Chief of Kuwait Times Daily Abd Al-Rahman Al-Alyan and Deputy Editorin- Chief of Al-Yaqtha magazine Dalia Behbehani in addition to the Director of Kuwait Journalist Association and coordinator of the delegation visit Adnan Al-Rashed and member of Kuwait Journalist Board of Director Jassem Kamal and photographer Majid Al-Sabeji. Iraq’s Transportation Minister Hadi Al- Ameri expressed optimism about better Kuwait-Iraq relations in the future and said Iraq wished to improve its relations with the state of Kuwait at all levels to secure a better future based on mutual interests. Speaking during a meeting with Kuwaiti journalists’ delegation, headed by Kuwait Journalists’ Association chief Ahmad Behbehani, Al-Ameri said, “Relations with Kuwait began moving in the right direction and both countries should now be looking towards a bright future in which mutual economic interests could be achieved, and forget the past which was caused by the former regime.” He said the Iraqi people were also a victim of their own regime. Giving the example of Europe, which he said was today moving ahead to secure common economic interests despite the fact that it went through a period of wars, the Iraqi minister expressed optimism that Kuwait and Iraq will also similarly overcome the painful past and boost mutual confidence. He said the former regime heaped untold suffering upon both Kuwaiti and Iraqi people by detaining many whose fate was still unclear. He said both the countries were working to resolve their differences under international supervision.

In this context, he mentioned Iraq Airways dispute and said both sides have agreed to settle it by following certain conditions. Al-Ameri expressed hope that the Kuwait- Baghdad and Baghdad-Kuwait line will be opened soon to move the mutual relations to a new level, adding that Arab Aviation companies were demanding an increase in the number of flights. He said Iraq was looking forward to build the second or third largest port in the world in Al-Fao area with a capacity of 23 million containers per year, including 23 piers. He said the Mubarak port that Kuwait plans to build does not affect Al-Fao port, but it does affect the ports of Um Qasr south and north in addition to Khan Al-Zubair, which is in a narrow and shallow sea area where Iraq dug the water passage during the 1970s. He said Iraq believes Kuwait has full sovereignty and a right to build Mubarak Port, but only wished that the location of the port be moved a little so as not to harm the traffic of Iraqi ports.

He said the two countries have discussed this issue and agreed to go in for international arbitration. Al-Ameri spoke about railroad links with Kuwait and said it was important to have a railroad that connected the countries of eastern Arab world, as this will serve the region in many ways. He called for linking east with west at a later stage to strengthen relations between countries even further. He said Iraq was keen on developing relations with Kuwait and there was not one Iraqi political bloc that was against this. He urged the Kuwaiti businessmen to avail the investment opportunities in Iraq.

Meanwhile, KJA Director and Coordinator of the visit, Adnan Al-Rashid, lauded the visit, which followed close on the heels of a similar visit by Iraqi journalists to Kuwait and was in continuation of the media and popular contacts between both countries. Al-Rashid also lauded the support of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, along with that of information and foreign ministers to ensure the visit’s success. Al-Rashid also thanked the Iraqi and Kuwaiti embassies of both countries for facilitating the visit. He lauded the efforts that made it possible to meet Iraqi officials in the media office of the prime minister, the president and the parliament. Al-Rashid lauded the information and culture committee in the Iraqi parliament and President of Iraqi Journalists Union for their efforts to make sure the visit was a success as it came ahead of a visit by HH the Prime Minister of Kuwait to Iraq.

The Kuwait Journalist delegation included Al-Anbaa Editor-in-Chief Yousuf Al-Marzouq, Annahar Editor-in-Chief Emad Bukhamseen, Kuna Editor-in-Chief Rashid Al-Ruwaished, Al-Rai Editor-in-Chief Majid Al-Ali, Kuwait Times Editor-in-Chief Abd Al-Rahman Al- Alyan, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Yaqza Magazine Dalia Behbehani, as well as Director of KJA, Coordinator of the visit Adnan Al-Rashid, member of KJA Board of Directors Jassim Kamal and Photographer Majid Al-Sabej. The meeting was attended by Charge-de Affairs at Kuwait Embassy Khalid Al-Qinae and President of Iraq Journalists Union Moayad Al-Lami. — KUNA


original source: http://news.kuwaittimes.net/2012/12/10/kuwait-iraq-relations-move-in-right-direction-forget-the-past-look-into-bright-future/

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