US defense chief in Kuwait after death of emir

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper meeting with the new emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah at the emiri terminal of the Kuwait international airport on Sunday. (AFP)
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Updated 04 October 2020

US defense chief in Kuwait after death of emir

  • Mark Esper expressed “sincere condolences” for the loss of Sheikh Sabah

KUWAIT CITY: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Sunday visited Kuwait to extend the condolences of the US administration to the country’s leaders after the death of its emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
Esper expressed “sincere condolences” for the loss of Sheikh Sabah, who died on Tuesday at the age of 91, in a meeting with the new emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, who also expressed concern over the health of US President Donald Trump.
Sheikh Nawaf said he was glad that Trump, who has been hospitalized after being diagnosed with coronavirus, was “recovering and well.” Esper thanked him for his “expression of concern.”
Kuwait and the United States are close allies, bound by a defense agreement that expires in 2022.
Their alliance was sealed with the Gulf War in 1991, during which a US-led international coalition expelled Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi troops from Kuwait after seven months of occupation.
Camp Arifjan, near the Saudi border, is a key base for US troops stationed in the country.
Before arriving in Kuwait on Sunday, Esper spent the night in Qatar, where he discussed “the importance of the strong defense partnership” between the two countries.
Esper thanked Qatar for hosting some 8,000 US military personnel at the Al-Udeid Air Base, the US’s largest in the region.
The Pentagon chief had been on a North Africa tour aimed at beefing up the fight against jihadists in war-torn Libya and the Sahel, and on Friday signed a military cooperation deal with Morocco.


Saad Hariri named new Lebanon PM, promises reform cabinet

Updated 32 min 31 sec ago

Saad Hariri named new Lebanon PM, promises reform cabinet

  • Hariri immediately promised a government of technocrats committed to a French-backed reform plan
  • He has previously led three governments in Lebanon

BEIRUT: Three-time Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri was named to the post for a fourth time Thursday and immediately promised a government of technocrats committed to a French-backed reform plan.
Hariri said he would “form a cabinet of non politically aligned experts with the mission of economic, financial and administrative reforms contained in the French initiative roadmap.”
“I will work on forming a government quickly because time is running out and this is the only and last chance facing our country,” he added.
President Michel Aoun named Hariri to form a new cabinet to lift the country out of crisis after most parliamentary blocs backed his nomination.
Hariri, who has previously led three governments in Lebanon, stepped down almost a year ago under pressure from unprecedented protests against the political class.
“The president summoned... Saad Al-Deen Al-Hariri to task him with forming a government,” a spokesman for the presidency said.
Hariri was backed by a majority of 65 lawmakers, while 53 abstained.
Lebanon is grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades and still reeling from a devastating port blast that killed more than 200 people and ravaged large parts of Beirut in August.
Aoun warned Wednesday that the new prime minister, the third in a year, would have to spearhead reforms and battle corruption.
A relatively unknown diplomat, Mustapha Adib, had been nominated in late August following the resignation of his predecessor Hassan Diab’s government in the aftermath of the deadly port blast.
Adib had vowed to form a cabinet of experts, in line with conditions set by French President Emmanuel Macron to help rescue the corruption-ridden country from its worst ever economic crisis.
He faced resistance from some of the main parties however and threw in the towel nearly a month later, leaving Lebanon rudderless to face soaring poverty and the aftermath of its worst peacetime disaster.