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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It’s a special pleasure to welcome the foreign minister back to the State Department, back to Washington.  Foreign Minister Al Sabah and I have been friends for many, many years, and with all due respect to the extraordinary new ambassador that Kuwait has, we did feel that there was a little bit of something missing, so we’re great now to have the benefit of having the ambassador but also having you here in your role as foreign minister.  And for me on a personal level as well as a professional level, that’s a very much appreciated development.

And of course, more broadly, it speaks to the enduring but also evolving relationship between the United States and Kuwait – strong strategic partners, longtime allies, and increasingly working together on the many challenges that both of our countries face.  We see Kuwait playing a vital role as a force for peace, for security, for diplomacy throughout the Middle East and beyond, globally.  And especially in these times, that’s vitally important to us.  We have I know lots to share today, consulting on a whole variety of issues, from Syria to Yemen to the broader situation in the Middle East.

I have to tell you also, Salem, how grateful we were in the crisis that’s been unfolding in Sudan that Kuwait was quite literally the first country to say what can we do, how can we help, including American citizens who were seeking to leave.  So we’re really grateful for that, but it goes to the fact that for many decades now we have been standing up for each other and with each other.  And I was also very pleased that you were able to see the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, my friend.

So it’s a lot to discuss, but mostly it’s very good to have – see you here, have you here, and to pursue the agenda that we’ve in many ways been working on for many years.  Welcome.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL SABAH:  Mr. Secretary, dear friend, thank you very much for inviting me to the State Department today and thank you very much for your very warm welcome, Tony.  As you mentioned, we’ve been friends for a long time, and I cherish that friendship very, very much.  On a personal level, it’s always good to be back in Washington, a city that I lived in and served my country in for over 20 years, so it’s very good for me to be back here. 

Kuwait and the U.S. enjoy a very strong strategic partnership and friendship, and Tony, I look forward throughout our discussions to discuss that friendship and see how we can elevate that partnership and that friendship and build upon it.  And I look forward also to discussing with you what’s on our agenda for our strategic dialogue that’s coming up in October.  That’s something we look forward to.

You mentioned our help in Sudan.  No thanks necessary.  A friend in need is a friend indeed, and we’re friends of the United States and we are there when you need us, and we were glad to be able to play a role in Sudan in getting your nationals out of there.

The U.S. plays a very pivotal role in maintaining the peace and security in our region.  We thank you for that, Tony, and we hope that the U.S. will continue to play that stabilizing role in our region.  I think it’s very important.  I would like also to touch upon that in our discussions.

Our region, as you know, faces many, many crises.  Globally too, there are other crises that I think we should discuss, and again, Kuwait, from its role as a bridge builder, as a country that brings parties together and tries to resolve conflicts by peaceful means, I’d like to discuss with you, Tony, ways that Kuwait can be beneficial in bringing an end to crises in our region and beyond.  I think our world today is moving into a dangerous place, and I think countries like the U.S. and Kuwait, that share the same principles of international peace and security and the need to maintain that – I think we can work together in very constructive way to bring peace and security to the globe.

So again, thank you very much for your warm welcome, Tony.  It’s great to be back in D.C. and I look forward to a very fruitful discussion with you this afternoon.  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thanks, everyone.

U.S. Department of State

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