Kuwait warns US against pullout

December 01, 2006


PARIS, Nov 30: A US pullout from Iraq would prompt a civil war with worldwide repercussions, the emir of neighbouring Kuwait warned in an interview with a French newspaper published on Thursday.

''In the current circumstances, an American withdrawal (from Iraq) would in no way help bring back stability,'' Kuwait's Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who is currently on a state visit to France on his first trip to Europe as ruler, told the daily Le Figaro.

''On the contrary, the situation would get worse, and we would experience a civil war of great intensity that the whole world would pay the price for,'' he said. His country would be among those to suffer from such a civil war, he added.

He urged US forces to pull out of Iraqi cities and occupy their periphery instead, a proposal he said he has frequently discussed with US President George W. Bush.

The comments come amid increasing calls for a pullback of US troops. A bipartisan commission in Washington will unveil long-awaited recommendations next week for a new US policy in Iraq that reportedly would call for a gradual withdrawal.

Sheikh Sabah, who became leader of the Persian Gulf state in January, met on Thursday French President Jacques Chirac. Talks between the two leaders focused on the situation in Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian territories, according to Chirac's spokesman Jerome Bonnafont.

French officials said the nations' defence ministers signed two military pacts. The first allows for increased sharing of military intelligence between the two countries.

The second updates a bilateral defence pact in place since 1993, two years after the Gulf War, which liberated Kuwait from a seven-month Iraqi occupation. France was a key ally in the US-led coalition that fought the war --but strongly opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Economic ties were also on the emir's agenda. French firms are looking for increased business in the aerospace, infrastructure, oil and public works sectors in Kuwait.—AP