Participants are seen during preparations for a family photo at the conference on Middle East peace and security in Warsaw Image Credit: AFP

Manama: Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister has scorned allegations that the group picture taken at the international conference in Warsaw meant the normalisation of ties between his country and Israel.

The picture featured representatives from more than 60 countries, including Arab countries and Israel, who participated in the conference co-hosted by Poland and the US State Department to address security in the Middle East.

The conference came under attack from opponents who sought to belittle its significance and to take to task those who took part in it.

Arab representatives were accused of working on establishing or strengthening ties with Israel and were labelled as “supporters of the normalisation of relations with the Zionists.”

However, Khalid Al Jarallah dismissed the allegations as hollow and not reflecting the reality on the ground.

“Those who believe that the group picture at the Warsaw Conference signified a change in Kuwait’s attitude towards Israel are under illusion and they are mistaken to think that normalisation cane be reduced to a group picture,” he said.

Kuwait is clearly and firmly opposed to the normalisation of relations with Israel, he stressed in a statement carried by Kuwait News Agency.

“Kuwait took part in the Warsaw peace and security conference under a joint invitation from the United States and Poland, with which Kuwait has close relations and has allied itself in some issues. Besides, the issues on the agenda of the conference had to do with the future of security and peace in the Middle East, of which we are a part,” Jarallah said in response to speculations mounted on social media.

“It would be illogical that these topics, including the Palestine issue and the developments of the Middle East peace process, are discussed while we are not present. Our participation in the conference stemmed from keenness on defending these issues, not plundering them. We have made our point clear at all international forums, foremost among which is the UN Security Council through our non-permanent membership,” he said.

Kuwait’s “principled stance” was highly appreciated by the Palestinian brothers, he added.

Relations could be normalised with Israel only after reaching a fair and comprehensive solution to the Palestine issue and the establishment of a state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the Arab Peace Initiative, he said.

“The normalisation of relations between countries has various forms that do not necessarily include taking group pictures at international conferences. Kuwait participated in the Warsaw conference alongside other countries from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), whose participating delegations were of a higher profile than that of Kuwait,” Al Jarallah said.

Foreign ministers from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the six GCC members, were at the meeting.

The conference was similar to other numerous international gatherings in which Israel takes part, including forums held under the UN umbrella, Al Jarallah added.