Ankara – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed on Tuesday with Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah bilateral relations and means to promote them, in addition to regional developments especially the Syria crisis.
This came during the Emir’s two-day visit to Turkey in which a number of agreements were signed between the two sides.
Sabah was received by Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara for a private meeting followed by meetings between officials of the two countries.
The day saw six separate agreements signed: three concerning financial aid for Syrian refugees in southeast Turkey and others on defense, tourism and religious affairs cooperation.
During the meeting, the historic relations of the two countries were address and ways to develop the partnership to serve the interests of Kuwait and Turkey.
Erdogan and Sheikh Sabah al-Sabah exchanged awards with Erdogan receiving the Order of the Mubarak the Great, which is the highest award given by Kuwait. In return, the Turkish president presented the Order of the State of the Republic of Turkey, the highest order in the country, to the Emir.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Kuwaiti Emir received at his residence at the Marriott Hotel, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and the pair discussed areas of common interest, including trade, culture, tourism and defense.
Yildirim expressed his appreciation of Kuwaiti support against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, a network accused of orchestrating last July’s failed coup attempt in Turkey.
During the meeting, Sabah highlighted Turkey’s significant role in the Middle East and commented that he expected to cement and extend ties between the countries during his trip.
Kuwaiti Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Anas al-Saleh met Tuesday with Turkish deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Mehmet Simsek on the possible establishment of an industrial-trade zone to serve the Turkish private sector.
Saleh stressed Turkey’s intention to promote the private sector’s role and presence in Kuwait. He added that Ankara wants to make use of Kuwait’s positon to reach Asian markets, mainly Iraqi and Iranian ones.
The minister welcomed this cooperation, saying that both sides’ private sectors would be encouraged to put this partnership in place for the common interest of both nations.
Meanwhile, Kuwaiti Minister of Defense Mohammad al-Khalid met with his Turkish counterpart Fikri Isik to discuss military cooperation.
Turkey’s ambassador to Kuwait, Murat Tamer spoke of the strong commercial relations and close friendship between the countries. He added Kuwaitis ranked first among Gulf citizens who purchased the most real estate in Turkey with around 5,500-6,000 buyers.
The ambassador emphasized the importance of Kuwait’s support after last year’s July 15 coup attempt. He said Kuwait did not just say: “’We are supporting you’, but they also asked ‘What can we do for you?’”
The ambassador noted that in 2013, Turkish construction groups in Kuwait had a $488 million contract, and as of 2016, Turkish construction services rose to $6.5 billion.
A Turkish construction company Limak had won a contract to build a new terminal at Kuwait International Airport.
“This was Kuwait’s biggest tender outside the oil sector. For Turkey and Turkish contractors, it was the biggest contract that they won alone,” Tamer added.
The bilateral trade between Turkey and Kuwait is around $700-880 million outside of contracting services.
Turning to tourism, Tamer reported that the number of Kuwaiti tourists has risen from 20,000 in 2009 to 230,000 annually. He noted that 270,000 others travel to various parts of the world via Istanbul.
During the emir’s visit, Turkey and Kuwait are also due to sign three deals to help Syrian refugees living in Turkey, added the ambassador.
Kuwait will make some donations to the projects for Syrian refugees in Gaziantep, Kilis, and Sanliurfa.
Kuwait is also seeking a deal with Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs on education to combat extremist movements.