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Sun 22 Nov 2009 06:04 PM

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Kuwait to allocate Iran port to boost trade

Kuwaiti PM says special port for Iran imports will be earmarked in the country.

Kuwait to allocate Iran port to boost trade
IRAN VISIT: Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah and Irans First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi in Tehran. (Getty Images)

Kuwait will earmark a special port for Iranian imports in a bid to revive trade between the two major Gulf oil producers, Iran's IRNA news agency said on Sunday, during a rare visit to Tehran by a Kuwaiti premier.

Trade between Kuwait, a Sunni-led US ally, and predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran, an old foe of Washington, has declined to about $100m per year from $500m in 2005, IRNA reported. It gave no reason for the downward trend.

"All the Kuwaiti doors will be open to imports of Iranian products and there will be a special port for the entry of Iranian products," IRNA quoted Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah as saying in Tehran.

He did not provide further details, according to the IRNA report.

His host, Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi, told the same news conference: "The Islamic Republic of Iran has opened its arms for the expansion of bilateral ties between the two friendly and fraternal neighbours."

Iran and Kuwait signed two memorandums of understanding (MOU) covering trade as well as water and electricity, IRNA said, without giving details.

The two countries dispute the ownership of a gas field in the Gulf, Arash, but Rahimi and his guest called on Saturday for "cooperation in connection to the resolution of the continental shelf issue", Iran's state broadcaster reported.

Iranian state television said after Sheikh Nasser arrived in Tehran on Saturday that it was the first visit to Tehran by a prime minister from the Gulf Arab state in more than 30 years.

The aim was to boost political and economic ties, English-language Press TV added.

Such language may raise eyebrows in Washington, which is embroiled in a long-running row with Tehran over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme. The West suspects Iran is seeking to build nuclear bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

Kuwait and Iran are both members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

But Gulf Arab states are concerned about spreading Iranian influence in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip and its potential effect on their own Shi'ite communities. Gulf Arabs also fear Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons. (Reuters)

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