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Kuwaiti Leaders Meet for First Time with American Jewish Leaders in D.c.

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Visiting Kuwaiti parliamentarians made their first-ever stop at the American Jewish Committee’s Washington office last week to discuss the Arab boycott and other controversial issues.

Friday’s meeting marked the first time leaders of the Kuwaiti National Assembly met officially in the United States with an American Jewish organization, said AJCommittee’s Washington representative Jason Isaacson, who participated in the meeting.

“It went well,” Isaacson said of the meeting, which included about 20 people, among them Mohammad Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah, Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. “It was the opening of a door.”

AJCommittee participants urged Kuwait to “take further steps and assume a leadership role” in working to end the Arab boycott of Israel, said Isaacson.

He added that the Kuwaitis gave “a thoughtful response, saying, ‘we have moved and hope we will continue to move'” on the issue, said Isaacson. “There was no timetable given and none was asked.”

Last year, Kuwait said it would no longer comply with the secondary and tertiary aspects of the boycott, dealing with companies that do business with Israel.

The two sides also discussed the plight of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a concern of both American Jewish groups and of Kuwait.

“They came with some knowledge of AJCommittee’s and Jewish efforts generally on behalf of Bosnian Muslims, and they were eager to engage us on that issue,” said Isaacson.

In addition, the participants discussed Iraq and the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, including the shared interest on the part of Kuwait and the United States to maintain United Nations sanctions against Iraq.

The Kuwaitis arranged for a camera from Kuwaiti television to record Friday’s meeting, Isaacson said, adding that he was not sure whether it had been broadcast in Kuwait.

Because of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, the JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published Monday, May 30.

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