Kuwait Times - 22/4/2006
Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr Mohammed Al-Sabah averred Kuwait's adherence to domestic political and economic reforms, in an interview over the weekend with the Al-Arabiya television. Among some reforms recently instigated, he noted Kuwait's conferring political rights to women, endorsing a new press law that opens the door to anyone to start a newspaper or magazine or any other type of publication for the general masses, enabling the establishment of new civil society organisations, National Assembly reforms such as redrawing the number of electoral constituencies and amending some of the parliament's in-house by-laws.
The parliamentary reforms affecting the redrawing of electoral constituencies would be taken up by the National Assembly in its sessions on May 15, said the foreign minister. "The political reform process is continuing unabated ... It not only addresses the geographical redrawing of the constituencies but also deals with the process of voter registration."
Sheikh Mohammed indicated that currently-impelled economic reforms in Kuwait could be epitomised in the fact that it seeks to regain an erstwhile stature as a viable regional financial centre. Kuwait had had to abandon that stature which it possessed in previous times because it had to concentrate instead on security issues.
In its penchant to transform itself into a bustling financial centre for the region, Kuwait has embarked on dedicating vast resources that would encourage large-scale investments within the country. Native capital would be used for these investments, said the foreign minister.
Besides that, foreign investments would also be welcomed, now that the nation has a clear-cut foreign investor law. The upshot of such policies would be to make Kuwait a nation not wholly dependent on oil for its national wealth.
The minister cited a recent trip by the current Amir His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to a number of Southeast Asian nations in the capacity then as prime minister to have been the turning point in Kuwaiti priorities, from emphasising the economy over security as foremost in the nation's interest.
On the recent visit to Kuwait by Iran's chief of the Expediency Council Hashemi Rafsanjani, Sheikh Mohammed underscored that the Iranian guest was forthcoming in saying that his nation's nuclear program was geared to peaceful purposes and that Iran sought to cooperate fully with the IAEA and that Iran would take strict precautions in uranium-enrichment operations.
However, Sheikh Muhammad expressed Kuwait's anxiety over any leakage of nuclear material from the Iranian nuclear reactor in Bushehr into the Gulf waters. Such leakage would be detrimental to Kuwait since it uses Gulf waters for desalination.
Furthermore the Bushehr reactor is three times as close to Kuwait as it is to Tehran, he pointed out. The danger to Kuwait is real in the event of any reactor leakage into the Gulf waters.
While Iraq is convulsed with a tragic security problem that is being manifested in wholesale daily killings, there are bright spots in the life of that nation as it is becoming well-versed in the practice of democracy, said Sheikh Muhammad. That democracy was recently seen in the holding of national elections and in Iraq's fight against domestic terrorism and attempts at tearing asunder the fabric of the nation by those who stoke the fire of ethnic clashes. In its endeavour at reconstruction, Iraq is being helped generously by Kuwait, he said.
As for Kuwait's domestic politics, Sheikh Mohammed underlined the cohesiveness and tightness of the Kuwait social fabric.
To a question on Lebanon and its relations with Syria, the Kuwaiti foreign minister emphasised that Kuwait did not relish to see any rifts between Syria and Lebanon. He indicated that Kuwait sought to extend a helping hand to both of these countries.