by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the signing of the NATO-Kuwait Transit Agreement with His Excellency Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah, Foreign Minister of Kuwait
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here with you in Kuwait.
This is my first visit to your country as NATO Secretary General.
Kuwait has long been a strong and committed partner for NATO.
Playing a crucial role in promoting political dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and Gulf countries.
In 2004, Kuwait became the first country to join the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, the ICI.
It was the first country in the region to host meetings of Gulf countries and the North Atlantic Council.
It was the first ICI country to sign an information security agreement with NATO, to facilitate the exchange of sensitive information.
And it was the first to agree an Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme with NATO, tailoring our cooperation to the specific needs of your country.
Today, our countries face many challenges.
Challenges from failed and failing states across the wider Middle East.
From extremism and terrorism.
And from the proliferation of ballistic missile technology and weapons of mass destruction.
Kuwait has shown leadership in promoting regional security, playing an important role in the fight against ISIL as part of the Global Coalition.
It has also shown compassion through its humanitarian work to alleviate the refugee crisis.
The security of Kuwait and of the other Istanbul Cooperation Initiative countries is of key strategic importance to NATO.
In this climate of instability, it is essential that we work together in partnership.
To find common solutions to common challenges.
For together, we are stronger.
Kuwait’s long history of partnership with NATO, and its strategic location in the Gulf, make it the ideal partner for NATO as we tackle common security challenges.
Including the threat posed by ISIL.
That is why this NATO-Kuwait Transit Agreement that we have just signed is so important.
It is yet another example in our cooperation.
This agreement will greatly facilitate the transit of personnel, supplies and equipment to our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.
It will also make any future NATO activities in the region significantly more effective.
This is the first such agreement that NATO has signed in the Gulf region.
I thank Kuwait.
And I hope it will lead to similar agreements with other nations in the region.
Later today, I will visit the site of the first NATO-ICI Regional Centre.
When complete, it will be a focal point for NATO’s cooperation with Kuwait and the other countries of the ICI.
As well as others in the Gulf, such as Saudi Arabia and Oman, and with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
This center is another concrete sign of the maturity reached in our cooperation under the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our nations share the same challenges.
We face the same threats.
And we share the same desire for peace and security.
So on behalf of the NATO Alliance, I would like to thank the Government of Kuwait for their strong and enduring support.
And for signing this agreement today.