(WITH POL-EAST-TIMOR-KUWAIT) By Kawthar Al-Ghanim KUWAIT, June 2 (KUNA) -- His Highness the Prime Minister of Kuwait Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah continues his Asian tour, visiting East Timor, a country bound with diplomatic ties with the Gulf state since four years ago.
Kuwait established full diplomatic relation with East Timor in 2003 when the two countries signed a protocol of diplomatic representation at the level of ambassadors, following East Timor's independence in 2001.
Although the government of East Timor was in exile in 1990 and was an observer in the United Nations (UN) with no right to vote, it supported Kuwait and its rights during the Iraqi invasion, a stand that was highly appreciated by Kuwait.
In 2004, Kuwait was the only Arab country to participate in the international donors conference for East Timor that was held in Dili, the East Timorese capital, with the participation of 250 states.
At the conference, the East Timor's President hailed Kuwait's support to the third-world countries and said it would be the representative of all countries in the Middle East. Former Prime Minister of East Timor Mari Al-Katiri visited Kuwait in 2004. It was the first official visit of an East Timorese political figure to Kuwait and Al-Katiri's second visit to a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state, as he had visited the United Arab Emirates in 2003.
Kuwaiti Ambassador to Indonesia Mohammad Fathil Khalaf presented his credentials to the East Timorese government as a as non-resident Ambassador in 2005.
In 2006, East Timorese Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta visited Kuwait and the signed several Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)s 2006 on developing the economic and the activation of strategic partnerships ties with Kuwait.
Economic agreements between the two countries are related to petroleum exploration, the exchange of banking expertise, and Kuwait's participation in activating tourism in East Timor.
In August 2006, following East Timor's call for help, Kuwait sent to it the first batch of aid that consisted of medicine, fully equipped ambulances, a mobile medical unit, blankets, and other supplies.
Represented by the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, Kuwait established a USD 600,000 water desalination plant in East Timor, that suffers shortage of water. (end) kg.ris KUNA 020946 Jun 07NNNN