KUWAIT: Timor-Leste's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao concluded a three-day visit to Kuwait yesterday, in which he discussed political and economic bilateral ties with the His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah.
Prime Minister Gusmao was accompanied by a delegation compromised of Timor-Leste's Finance Minister Emilia Pires, Foreign Affairs Minister Zacarias De Costa, and Minister of Infrastructure Pedro Lay, among many other delegates. The two countries discussed their existing relationship and ways to bolster future financial and political agreements.We are grateful for the very warm welcome of the Kuwaiti people," Gusmao said during his opening speech, which was held at a press conference at Bayan Palace yesterday, adding, "We have come to learn how to fast track development in Timor-Leste.During their three-day visit, the prime minister and his delegation met with HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who according to the prime minister, reiterated and confirmed Kuwait's commitment to Timor-Leste. Gusmao also met with the Kuwaiti Cabinet and the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce during his stay.The main aim of this visit was to take advantage of the Kuwaiti experience in the oil sector and economics. Throughout the meeting with the prime minister and his delegation, it was reiterated that Timor-Leste and Kuwait were very similar in regards to their geographical size and their dependence on their natural resources.It was also disclosed that several umbrella agreements had been signed during this short visit, including a scholarship funded by Kuwait that will allow citizens of Timor-Leste to come to Kuwait to learn and work in the oil sector. Moreover, in regards to education, students from Timor-Leste will have a number of seats reserved that will allow them to attend Kuwait University.As part of the signed agreements, both Kuwait and Timor-Leste will establish embassies in the two countries. Additionally, a center will be built for the Muslims in Timor-Leste, a minority who constitute only one percent of the country's population.Timor-Leste is a relatively new country as it gained its independence from Indonesia in 2002, after winning a referendum of independence by popular vote in 1999. This makes it the first country to be named a sovereign state in the 21st century. Consequently, the current government is only the fourth constitutional government.Timor -Leste, also known as East Timor, has witnessed more than 25 years of fighting. It is a small country, with only $790 million as its annual budget. According to the finance minister, East Timor's economy is underdeveloped and still lacks transparency. "Kuwait has allowed us to live the vision of what a small country can become," Gusmao concluded.