DOHA, 12th January, 2016 (WAM) — Kuwait’s First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said Monday the fourth session of Kuwait-Qatar joint committee dealt with ways of further boosting bilateral relations and cooperation.

According to Kuwait News Agency, KUNA, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled, at a joint news conference with Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Attiyah, said the participation of 24 government and private bodies in the committee meeting reflected keenness to meeting aspirations of the two countries. He said the two countries signed cooperation agreements to bring the total deals to 24.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled noted that joint investments exceeded US$7 billion while trade exchange in 2015 amounted to around US$250 million. The two countries operate 73 flights weekly, and over 700,000 people travelled between the two countries last year. Kuwait is hosting more than 100 Qatari cadets, while 100 Kuwaitis are studying in Qatar, he said.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled said he met with Qatari Amir Sheikh Tamim Al-thani and conveyed the greetings of His Highness the Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

He congratulated Qatar and its people on the safe return of Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

Al-Attiyah meanwhile said the two sides discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest. He said the cooperation agreements would bolster cooperation in the fields of oil and gas, air transport, culture, information, culture and education.

The joint committee is deeply concerned over the continued ordeal of Qataris held hostage in Iraq after they entered the country with legal documents from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and embassy in Doha, according to a joint statement issued after the fourth session of the committee tonight.

“The abduction of the Qatari nationals is a flagrant violation of the international law, the human rights and the values of Noble Islam. It’s also an unacceptable infringement on the sisterly ties between the two Arab countries,” the statement said.

The committee urged the Iraqi government to do its utmost towards freeing the Qatari hostages and ensuring their safe return to home.

The two sides signed the minutes of the fourth committee session which covered all aspects of cooperation in the fields of foreign policy, defence, security, economy, commerce, investment, energy, industry, education, higher education, labour, social affairs, environment, information, youth and sports, communication, information technology, electricity and water, civil service, and administrative development.

They also signed agreements in such areas as air transport, cultural and artistic exchanges, education and higher education, and scientific research as well as MoUs in the fields of oil and gas, petrochemicals, industrial cooperation, civil service, administrative development, the third executive programme for media collaboration for 2016-2018, and the second executive programme for educational collaboration, 2016-2020.

They reviewed the sisterly ties in all fields as well as ways to further enhance them in the spirit of mutual trust and understanding, and shared interests.

They also discussed a range of regional and international issues of common interest, according to the statement.

During his meeting with the Qatari Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled conveyed to the Qatari leader the regards of His Highness the Emir of Kuwait and best wishes for Qatar. Sheikh Tamim asked Sheikh Sabah Khaled to convey his regards to His Highness the Emir and best wishes for the Kuwaiti people and government, the statement noted.

Regarding the GCC joint action, the joint committee extolled the Qatari Emir and His Highness the Emir of Kuwait for their constant efforts to push forward the blessed GCC march and their keenness on the success of the committee meeting.

The two sides agreed to convene the fifth session of the committee in Kuwait in 2017, the exact date and venue to be arranged through routine diplomatic consultation, it added.

WAM/Ahlam/Moran