His Majesty begins State Visit to Kuwait
By Azlan Othman in Kuwait City

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam began a State Visit in the Gulf state of Kuwait yesterday.

The aircraft carrying His Majesty touched down yesterday afternoon. The three-day State Visit will be followed by His Majesty's visit to the Sultanate of Oman.

His Majesty attended a banquet last night hosted by His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait, in honour of the monarch's visit to the Gulf state.

Prior to the banquet, an official meeting was held between His Majesty and Emir of Kuwait. Both leaders underlined the warm and friendly relations between the two countries and expressed commitment to further promote bilateral ties.

Consistent with the desire of both countries to promote cooperation, the two leaders also witnessed the signing ceremony of several documents of cooperation between the two countries: the Agreement for the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investment (BIT), the Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income (DTA) and the Memorandum of Understanding on oil and gas cooperation.

Signing the agreements and MoU on behalf of His Majesty's Government was Pehin Major General (rtd) Dato Seri Haji Mohammad, Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister's Office.

The Kuwait side was represented by Mustafa Jassem Al-Shamali, Minister of Finance and Sheikh Ahmed Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Minister of Oil.

Earlier, welcoming His Majesty at the Amiri Terminal, Kuwait International Airport was His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait. Also present at the airport to greet His Majesty were His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Crown Prince of Kuwait; Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Deputy Chief of National Guard; other members of the Kuwaiti royal family and state dignitaries, as well as members of the Kuwaiti government, who were later introduced to His Majesty.

Following this, members of the official delegation of Brunei Darussalam were introduced to His Highness the Emir of Kuwait.

Also present at the airport was Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Jaberudin bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Salleh, Non-Resident Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Kuwait.

The official welcoming ceremony of His Majesty's State Visit was held at the Amiri Terminal, Kuwait International Airport. His Majesty the Sultan and His Highness the Emir were led to a special dais to take the salute of the guard of honour mounted by the Emir's guard. After the national anthems of both countries were played, His Majesty together with His Highness inspected the honour guard.

Following this, Sheikh Khaled Abdullah Sabah Al-Nasser Al-Sabah, Chief of Emiri Protocol and Chamberlain of the State of Kuwait introduced Kuwait's Cabinet Ministers, advisors, Governors, senior aides and dean of the diplomatic corps to His Majesty.

His Majesty and His Highness then travelled together in a convoy to the Bayan Palace, where His Majesty would be staying.

In the afternoon, His Majesty attended a briefing on the economic development and investment in Kuwait by Bader Mohammad Al-Saad, Managing Director of Kuwait Investment Authority. The briefing was held at Bayan Palace.

The visit, which is at the invitation of His Highness the Emir, serves to further enhance relations between the two countries. This is the second State Visit by His Majesty to Kuwait, the first being in February 1994.

Earlier on Sunday, Kuwait's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Brunei's Civil Aviation signed an agreement on opening their respective airspace and liberalisation of air transport between the two countries.

Under the deal, the Kuwaiti air carrier will be able to use the Brunei International Airport, fly any number of flights and use it as a transit point to destinations beyond Brunei.

Hailing the deal, Fawwaz Al-Faraj, DGCA chief and head of Kuwait's delegation to the just-ended talks, said it renewed a previous bilateral agreement that used to regulate the air transport services between the State of Kuwait and Brunei.

"The deal is part of Kuwait's open sky policy towards various countries of the world which aims to link the Kuwait International Airport to the network of international airports," he said.

"It will further enhance the friendly ties between the two countries and open new opportunities to Kuwaiti air carriers. It will also facilitate the movement of passengers and cargo, thus enhancing the commercial ties between the two countries," Al-Faraj added.

Trade and economic ties between Brunei and Kuwait were bolstered with the signing of two agreements in July last year during the visit by the Prime Minister of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The two oil-rich nations also signed a memorandum of understanding.

The three documents comprised an Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, Trade and a Memorandum of Understanding. Last year's talk between the senior officials of both countries touched on investment, particularly on cooperation between the Kuwait Investment Authority and its Brunei counterpart.

The Kuwait delegation was briefed on a number of future projects that Brunei was planning, the scope of Kuwait Investment Authority and Kuwait's private sector contributions to these projects.

Cooperation in the oil and gas sector was also touched, paving the way for discussions between Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and Brunei authorities to discuss investment opportunities in this vital sector.

News on the monarch's visit appeared on the front page of the Kuwait Times yesterday. The first Kuwait Ambassador to the country, Ghassan Mohammed Abdurrahman presented his credentials to His Majesty late October last year.

Brunei and the Sultanate of Oman also held a bilateral meeting, 10th meeting held last year, which included cooperation in training and education. The bilateral meeting was established in 1993 to enhance ties.

Oman was among the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with Brunei and opened its embassy in the capital, just after the country's independence in 1984. There have also been a number of exchanges of visits at the ministerial level between the two countries. - Borneo Bulletin (14th Apr 2009)