Half of Kuwait cabinet turns up to receive vice president Ansari

April 6th, 2009 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

By Manish Chand
Kuwait, April 6 (IANS) In an unusual gesture, nearly half of Kuwait’s cabinet turned up at the international airport to receive Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari Monday as he began his three-day visit to the oil-rich Gulf emirate.

This is the first high-level visit from the Indian side to Kuwait, home to 580,000 Indians and 10 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves, in nearly three decades. Indira Gandhi was the last Indian prime minister to visit Kuwait in 1981. Zakir Hussain was the last Indian vice-president to visit Kuwait in 1965.

Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah personally came to the Kuwait International Airport to receive Ansari, a scholar and a former diplomat who has served as India’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iran.

Besides the crown prince, Acting Prime Minister, the First Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al Hamad Al-Sabah and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Faisal Al-Hajji were also present at the airport.

The advisor to Kuwait’s amir and deputy chief of National Guards also showed up for the ceremonial welcome accorded to the Indian leader.

The crown prince later hosted a state banquet for Ansari and his accompanying delegation at the palace where all the leading figures of the Kuwaiti government were present.

It’s very rarely that top figures in the Kuwaiti government go to receive a visiting dignitary and this shows the strength and warmth in bilateral relationship, an Indian official told IANS. This underlines the importance Kuwait attaches to developing close ties with India.

The focus was primarily on India-Kuwait friendship and how to take it to a qualitatively new level, India’s ambassador to Kuwait Ajai Malhotra told reporters after the banquet.

Ansari will call on the Amir Of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Tuesday and discuss an entire range of bilateral and global issues including energy security, counter-terrorism cooperation and enhancing economic ties.

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