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Kuwait - US Relations

The United States opened a consulate in Kuwait in October 1951, which was elevated to embassy status at the time of Kuwait's independence 10 years later. The United States supports Kuwait's sovereignty, security, and independence, as well as its multilateral diplomatic efforts to build greater cooperation among the GCC countries.

Strategic cooperation between the United States and Kuwait increased in 1987 with the implementation of a maritime protection regime that ensured the freedom of navigation through the Gulf for 11 Kuwaiti tankers that were reflagged with U.S. markings.

The U.S.-Kuwaiti strategic partnership intensified dramatically again after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The United States spearheaded UN Security Council demands that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait and its authorization of the use of force, if necessary, to remove Iraqi forces from the occupied country. The United States also played a dominant role in the development of the multinational military operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm that liberated Kuwait. The U.S.-Kuwaiti relationship has remained strong in the post-Gulf War period. Kuwait and the United States worked to monitor and to enforce Iraq's compliance with UN Security Council resolutions.

During the 2002-03 buildup to and execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Kuwait was a vital coalition partner, reserving a full 60% of its total land mass for use by coalition forces and donating significant assistance in kind to the effort. Kuwait continues to provide generous assistance in kind to ongoing coalition operations in Iraq. Kuwait has been consistently involved in reconstruction efforts in Iraq, pledging $1.5 billion at the October 2003 international donors' conference in Madrid, and consulting closely with Iraqi officials, including former Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaffari, who visited Kuwait in late October 2005, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who visited in July 2006 and again in April 2007. Kuwait has been an active and vocal public supporter of the political process in Iraq, welcoming the January 2005 elections and praising Iraq's October 2005 successful constitutional referendum. In April 2008 Kuwait hosted the Iraq Neighbors Conference, which was attended by Secretary of State. Kuwait likewise played a key role in facilitating the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops and associated equipment from Iraq, which concluded in December 2011.

Since Kuwait's liberation, the United States has provided military and defense technical assistance to Kuwait from both foreign military sales (FMS) and commercial sources. The U.S. Office of Military Cooperation in Kuwait (OMC-K) is an integral part of the American embassy and manages the FMS program. OMC-K is a joint unit consisting of representatives from all four U.S. military services and civilians, which serves as a liaison between the Kuwaiti military and U.S. Central Command (and its associated components). OMC-K personnel also assist the Kuwait military with training, education, readiness, and war fighting. There are currently 140 open FMS cases between the U.S. Government and the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, totaling over $9.6 billion. Principal U.S. military systems purchased by the Kuwaiti Defense Forces are the PATRIOT Missile system, F/A-18 Hornet fighters, M1A2 main battle tanks, AH-64D Apache helicopters, and a major recapitalization of Kuwait's Navy with U.S.-manufactured boats.

Kuwaiti attitudes toward American products have been favorable since the Gulf War. In 1993, Kuwait publicly announced abandonment of the secondary and tertiary aspects of the Arab boycott of Israel (those aspects affecting U.S. firms). The United States is Kuwait's largest supplier of goods and services, and Kuwait is the fifth-largest market in the Middle East. Provided their prices are reasonable, U.S. firms have a competitive advantage in many areas requiring advanced technology, such as oil field equipment and services, electric power generation and distribution equipment, telecommunications gear, consumer goods, and military equipment.

Kuwait also is an important partner in U.S. counterterrorism efforts, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and intelligence arenas and also supporting efforts to block financing of terrorist groups. In January 2005, Kuwait Security Services forces engaged in gun battles with local extremists, resulting in fatalities on both sides in the first such incident in Kuwait's history.

In January 2008, three Kuwait citizens were designated by the UN 1267 Committee as terrorist facilitators and in May 2008, in compliance with UN 1267 obligations, the Government of Kuwait froze the assets of the three Kuwaitis.

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Page last modified: 07-12-2012 19:16:06 ZULU