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Kuwait "longtime friend, vital partner" of US in region - State Dept.

WASHINGTON, March 19 (KUNA) -- Kuwait is a longtime friend and vital partner that helps advance key US interests in the region, including defense and counterterrorism, said the Department of State said late Monday.
The statement came in prelude of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the country as a first leg of a Middle East tour to reinforce "the value of our partnerships, as well as the importance of security and economic cooperation in achieving regional stability and countering the Iranian regime's malign activities." During his travel to Kuwait, Pompeo will participate in a series of bilateral meetings with high-level officials and attend the Third US-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue, according to the statement.
It added that also in Kuwait, Pompeo will laud the role of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah "in seeking a resolution to the Gulf dispute." He will also "highlight the importance of a united GCC in ensuring the success of the Middle East Strategic Alliance.
"While still in its formative stage, the United States has continued to advance discussions with our partners on the alliance, which includes the GCC member states, Egypt, and Jordan," the statement added.
In this regard, it indicated that the US-Kuwait relationship "generates US jobs through hundreds of millions of dollars of direct investment in the United States.
"At this year's strategic dialogue, the Secretary and other US officials will expand the bilateral relationship on innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business development," the statement noted.
It added that they will also work "to boost counter-narcotics efforts, deter illicit passenger and cargo flows, improve airport security and consular cooperation, and grow academic exchanges." The US top diplomat will also meet with members of the newly created US-Kuwait Business Council and local business leaders "to build stronger relationships and enhance economic ties." He will also "thank Kuwaiti leaders for their help in monitoring sanctions compliance and work to combat sanctions evasion," the statement said. The other two stops of his March 19-23 tour will also include Lebanon and Israel. (end) si.hb