At a recent international round-table on the topic of ‘India-Kuwait Relations and Humanitarian Cooperation,' the envoy of Kuwait said: “India has always been present for the International Community, by offering assistance and help. And, now, during the second wave of COVID-19, it is time for the global community to help India.”
India and Kuwait diplomatic relationship is 60 years old, however both countries have enjoyed cordial relations for more than 150 years. At a recent international round-table on the topic of ‘India-Kuwait Relations and Humanitarian Cooperation’ held by the Tillotama Foundation, the envoy of Kuwait said: “India has always been present for the International Community, by offering assistance and help. And, now, during the second wave of COVID-19, it is time for the global community to help India.”
As has been reported earlier, the Kuwait Cabinet had called an emergency session and had expressed deep concern over the situation in India. In that meeting, a plan was prepared on rushing medical aid, especially the much needed oxygen to India.
While Kuwait is one of the major sources of meeting India’s energy security needs as it exports around 200,000 barrels of crude oil per day amounting to 10 percent of Kuwait total production, in turn it also imports a lot of petrochemical products from India.
The Kuwait Investment Authority has planning to double the investment in India from the present US$5 billion both in the private and public sector. The investments will be critical areas including infrastructure, petroleum, and other new fields.
In an exclusive interaction, Kuwait’s Ambassador to India Jassem Ibrahim Al-Najem, shares with Huma Siddiqui, his country’s plans to expand medical help and cooperation in other areas.
Following are excerpts:
How much oxygen has Kuwait sent to India, so far?
The State of Kuwait stand firm to support India in its fight against the second wave of Corona virus, and the need of Medical Oxygen, I would like to mention that in the first phase of medical aid supply to India, Kuwait has sent 215 Metric Ton of Liquid Medical Oxygen and 2600 Oxygen Cylinder by three Indian Navy Ships to Mangalore port in Karnataka and one commercial ship to Nhava Sheva port in Mumbai, while in the second phase, 210 MT of Medical Liquid Oxygen and 1200 Oxygen Cylinders has been sent with the help of Indian Navy Ship Shardul which arrived New Mangalore port Trust in India on May 25, 2021. Apart from this, a Kuwaiti Air force flight airlifted 40 tons of relief items from Kuwait Red Crescent Society to New Delhi which included 282 oxygen cylinders, 60 oxygen concentrators, ventilators and other essential medical equipment.
Is Kuwait planning to send more medical aid to India?
As you know the Air-Sea Bridge has been established between both the countries, the process of shipment in second phase is still continuing, Indian Air force Aircraft is ferrying empty ISO Tanks to Kuwait to be refilled and sent back via sea-bridge for the smooth supply of medical aid to India. Moreover, the Indian Navy Ship Tarkash has arrived Kuwait on May 31, 2021 which will depart soon from Kuwait with over 200 MT of Medical Liquid Oxygen and Oxygen Cylinders. Additionally, Equate which is a Petrochemical company in Kuwait has offered 100,000 US Dollars to buy oxygen concentrators to be sent to India. In total the Government of Kuwait is committed to supply 1400 Metric Ton of Liquid medical oxygen to India.
Recently Foreign ministers of both countries talked on the phone – and the focus was on enhancing bilateral relations- how do you think both countries can enhance relations?
Yes, both the countries are working to boost and bolster their bilateral ties in various fields, such as Energy, Petrochemical Medical, Education, and Culture. Moreover, Kuwait is going to join the International Solar Alliance very soon, that is considered an important Alliance in the field of energy, and will provide the big opportunities to both the countries for cooperation in this field, and open the new possibilities of development in future. Subsequently, the foreign Ministers of the both the countries are in regular talks and have spoken thrice in 45 days since second wave hit India.
Have both sides identified new areas for cooperation?
During the recent visit of Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for cabinet Affairs of Kuwait, both sides have decided to establish the Joint Commission, which would hold its first meeting later this year, to enhance the bilateral relations in all fields and boost their trade and investment. Furthermore, both the sides have decided to establish new Joint Working Groups, which will work under the umbrella of Joint Commission to strengthen the cooperation between two countries in various fields such as: Joint Working Group on Medical Cooperation; Joint Working Group on Hydrocarbons; and Joint Working Group on Labour, Employment and Manpower Development.
Also, Kuwait exports over 200,000 barrel of crude oil to Indian Market daily and evidently both the countries are looking forward to increase and balance the export of crude oil to meet the energy needs of Republic of India.
Post COVID – are there any plans to take back the Indian workers?
The Pandemic has affected economies, health systems and lives of the people of the whole world. Many of them have lost their business and jobs, the same happened with the Indian workers in Kuwait as they went through this difficult time. The State of Kuwait has coordinated with Indian side for the Indian workers to return to Kuwait to resume their work, especially the Medical staff. And hope the situation will be normal soon for the Indian workers to return to Kuwait.