Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakatuh
As we celebrate the 44th National Day and the 14th Liberation Day of the State of Kuwait today, I would like to extend my heartiest greetings to the Government and the friendly people of Bangladesh.
The existing friendly bonds of the warm fraternal relations between the State of Kuwait and the People's Republic of Bangladesh have their roots in shared principles and values embedded in the history and social customs and traditions of our two countries.
The impetus to this strong binding is based on the people to the people relationship which dates back to the 17th Century when Arab traders visited the eastern part of Bengal to promote trade and commerce.
Before the establishing of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1974, Kuwait had extended assistance to the people of this region in 1970 and 1971 when they were affected by natural calamities. The opening of embassies by the two countries in the early 70s served as a strong momentum to the beginning of a new era of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
The strength of this friendship is further reflected in the numerous exchange of high level visits starting with the visit to Dhaka in 1974 by His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, the then Foreign Minister of the State of Kuwait. The State visits of H.H. Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait and Crown Prince Shlekh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah to Dhaka and the visits of all the successive Heads of Governments and other dignitaries of Bangladesh to Kuwait speak of the friendly ties between the two countries.
This bilateral cooperation and understanding has further been expanded and consolidated through the numerous bilateral agreements concluded between the two countries in various fields, particularly in the field of infra-structural development of Bangladesh, poverty alleviation and Defence. These agreements are on:
1) Cultural Cooperation;
2) Economic and
3) Civil Aviation;
4) Defence Cooperation;
5) Manpower Employment.
In addition to these bilateral agreements, Kuwaiti assistance is provided through Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED).
It is indeed a matter of great pride for all of us to see the great strides made by Bangladesh in its march to progress. Kuwait is proud to be a partner in that effort. Kuwaiti Assistance through KFAED has been provided in three major areas. These are: Energy and Rural Electrification, Communications and Agriculture. Kuwait has provided soft term loans on twenty different projects in these areas. This include a recent agreement under which KFAED will finance construction of three important bridges linking Dhaka with other parts of Bangladesh.
Kuwait Red Crescent Society, a Kuwaiti NGO has always participated in various programmes in Bangladesh related to providing relief and rehabilitation of the calamity affected people in Bangladesh worth several million dollars. Recently, it has provided assistance worth US Dollar I million during the last flood. The private Kuwaiti NGOs in Dhaka have also undertaken many programmes related to socio-economic welfare of the people here.
The Air Accord between the two countries under which the National Carriers of the two countries operate their flight, is another milestone in the close and cordial relations. Recently, our two countries increased the respective flight frequencies taking into consideration the increased flow of manpower from Bangladesh to Kuwait.
Both Bangladesh and Kuwait have Defence cooperation between them since the early 90s. The two countries have signed a new Defence agreement in May 2004 which replaces two other agreements signed over a decade back.
Although Trade cooperation between the two countries has increased in the recent times, yet, there is great scope for further growth in this area. Kuwait would like to see enhanced investment in the private sector by the business community of the two countries. Kuwait would like to see the leading business entrepreneurs of the two countries to explore and expand investment opportunities in Kuwait and Bangladesh. There should be more exchange of visits and interaction between the business communities of our two countries that could take our cooperative relationship to new heights.
I would like to take this opportunity in conveying the appreciation of the Government and the people of Kuwait to the Bangladesh expatriate community in Kuwait for their sincerity and hard work in the discharge of their responsibility. The present strength of Bangladesh! manpower in Kuwait is second to Saudi Arabia now and Kuwait looks forward to having more skilled and semi-skilled manpower from Bangladesh.
It is worth mentioning here that both Kuwait and Bangladesh share identical views and principles on matters of regional and international interest. Our two friendly countries strongly believe in the principles of respect of territorial integrity and non - interference in the internal affairs of any country. Both the countries strongly adhere to the principle of using diplomacy and negotiations in resolving all issues of contentious nature. As members of the United Nations the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organisation of Islamic Countries, our two friendly countries share common perspectives and goals in the pursuit of ensuring international peace and security in the changed world order. The strategic location of Kuwait in the Arabia Gulf region enables it to play an important role in securing peace and stability in the Middle East through creation of better understanding and cooperation with its neighbours.
I would like to conclude by expressing my sincere gratitude to the Government and the friendly people of Bangladesh for their wonderful hospitality and understanding.
May God bless our two countries.
H. E. Mr. Abdullah Masoud Abdullah