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Otaibi to Asharq Al-Awsat: Palestine is a Priority, Iran Should Stop its Interference

Otaibi to Asharq Al-Awsat: Palestine is a Priority, Iran Should Stop its Interference

Saturday, 18 August, 2018 - 05:00
Kuwait’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mansour Al-Otaibi. Asharq Al-Awsat
New York - Ali Barada

Kuwait’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mansour Al-Otaibi has said that the Palestinian cause remains a priority for Arab countries, and called on Iran to stop interfering in their internal affairs.

Otaibi, whose country is a non-permanent members of the Security Council since the start of 2018, told Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview that Kuwait represents the Arab Group in the Council.

“So it’s our responsibility to defend Arab causes,” he said. “The Palestinian cause is a priority for us. Our next priority goes to humanitarian issues and the third to resolving conflicts through diplomatic means.”

“There are big challenges in defending Arab causes, in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Somalia, in addition to the Palestinian cause,” the diplomat said.

Asked about statements made by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley that the Palestinian cause should not be prioritized, Otaibi said: “We agree with the United States on many issues on the Council agenda, but we have a firm stance regarding the Palestinian cause.”

On the funding crisis at the UN's Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, the ambassador said it is up to the international community to make financial contributions to it, and not just the Arab world.

UNRWA is facing a major budget shortfall after President Donald Trump's administration decided to withhold its contribution to the agency.

On the situation in Yemen, UN's envoy Martin Griffiths has invited the legitimate government and Iran-backed Houthis to Geneva next month for talks on resolving the country's civil war, he said.

Otaibi slammed the insurgents for “intentionally targeting civilians.”

Asked about Iran’s transfer of weapons to the Houthis, he said: “Iran’s interests in the region should not lead to instability.”

“It should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Arab countries.”

The diplomat also spoke with Asharq Al-Awsat about the Syrian crisis, describing the current situation as “disastrous.”

“More than half a million people have been killed,” he said, adding that millions have been internally displaced or have sought refuge in neighboring countries.

There have been statements that seven years of relentless conflict in Syria have wreaked destruction that had cost the country close to a whopping $400 billion, he said.

Regarding relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, Otaibi described them as “excellent.”

Kuwait is a member of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition to restore the legitimate government in Yemen.

“We have common viewpoints with Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf countries on many international matters,” he added.

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