U.S. names Kuwait a non-NATO ally

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Bush administration has designated Kuwait a major non-NATO ally.

The administration's decision makes Kuwait the second Gulf Cooperation Council state to obtain such a designation. In 2002, the administration deemed Bahrain to be a major non-NATO ally.

"I hereby designate the state of Kuwait as a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States for the purposes of the [Foreign Assistance] Act and the Arms Export Control Act," a memorandum sent by President George Bush said on Jan. 15.

Officials said the designation could encourage new Kuwaiti weapons purchases. The sheikdom has been negotiating with the United States for aircraft modernization and a C4I system, Middle East Newsline reported.

The designation allows the United States to sell advanced weapons to Kuwait. U.S. defense companies will also find it easier to transfer weapons technology to the sheikdom. Another benefit includes a U.S. government loan guarantee program, which supports loans issued by private banks to finance weapons exports.

The U.S. move came as part of a decision by the two countries in October 2003 to increase their military and security cooperation. Officials said the United States intends to maintain a long-term military presence in Kuwait and help train and equip its armed forces.

On Monday, the Kuwaiti Al Rai Al Aam daily reported that Kuwaiti Defense Minister Jaber Mubarak Al Sabah will fly to Washington at the end of March to discuss defense cooperation with the United States. The newspaper said Al Sabah will meet Bush and senior administration officials.

Egypt and Israel have also been designated major non-NATO allies of the United States, a category drafted in 1989 as a way of improving the security relations with those who are not members of the Western alliance. Major non-NATO allies are eligible for priority delivery of U.S. military surplus, stockpiling of U.S. equipment and participation in cooperative research and development programs.

These allies, however, do not receive the same mutual defense and security guarantees afforded to members of NATO.

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