Manama: Kuwait on Sunday denied reports it would boost the number of US troops in the country as they withdraw from Iraq.

Receiving well wishers on the Eid, Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah said that there were no plans to base more US troops on the Boubyan Island or on the mainland as they pull out of neighboring Iraq.

Shaikh Jaber, quoted by Kuwait News Agency (Kuna), said that the US military presence in his country was ruled by bilateral agreements and that there were no plans to increase it.

'A mere crosspoint'

Kuwait would be a mere crosspoint for US forces as they withdraw from Iraq, the minister said.

Media reports last week said that the US would reinforce its presence in the Gulf, mainly in Kuwait, as it pulls out its troops from Iraq where they had been stationed for years. The US in March 2003 helped topple the former Iraqi regime. According to the reports, the US would deploy 4,000 soldiers in Kuwait.

The US says its military might was needed to protect friends and interests in one of the world's most vital regions. Sources claim that the US has around 23,000 servicemen in Kuwait.

According to Kuna, the minister said that Kuwait would not be used to launch attacks on any country in the region, seemingly referring to reports about a military strike by the US at its alleged nemesis, Iran.