‘All Kuwaiti, Gulf and Arab tourists are welcome and safe in France’.

The French Ambassador to Kuwait Claire Le Flecher has reassured all Kuwaiti, Gulf and Arab tourists that the events and protests taking place in France have not affected, and will not affect, the demand for visa applications, reports Al-Qabas daily. In an interview, she said her country will remain one of the most popular tourist destinations, and that Paris will do its best to ensure the safety of the tourists, as per what was affirmed by the French Minister of Economy, Finance, Industrial and Digital Sovereignty Bruno Le Maire in his interview with “The Telegraph” newspaper.

Ambassador Le Flecher stated that all foreign tourists, regardless of their nationalities, are welcome and safe in France. She called for the need to ensure accuracy and avoid believing all the information circulating on the Internet, especially social media as it regularly publishes fake and unverified news and information. Ambassador Le Flecher highlighted the high demand for visa applications, especially in the summer months, revealing that the embassy, since the beginning of the year, processed more than 23,000 visa applications, which is an increase of 18 percent compared to the same period last year. She explained that the fees imposed by France on domestic workers accompanying Kuwaiti tourists (for sponsors and employers) as social insurance for them as they are employees in the private sector according to the French Labor Law, did not affect the desire of Kuwaitis to visit France.

This is based on the number of visa applications, which is on the rise. These fees are not collected by the embassy, but by a specific party in France, due to which the embassy is not sure about the amounts collected. These fees are included in the state budget, as is the case in many European countries, and they do not apply only to Kuwaitis, but include all nationalities. Regarding the facilities provided by the embassy to avoid overcrowding in submitting applications, Ambassador Le Flecher said, “In addition to Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, whom we thank, we communicated widely about the possibility of submitting applications for a period of up to six months before the trip.” She praised the role played by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its cooperation with the embassies of European countries in its continuous communication, and the renewal of its claims and calls for those wishing to travel to France to submit their requests early, which contributed to organizing the work well, even if the delays remained high. Ambassador Le Flecher said, “We continue to open new appointments regularly, and provide a VIP mobile service to collect requests for those wishing to travel to France from their homes or wherever they are in order to facilitate their comfort.”

Regarding the measures taken against the violating offices, she said, “With the cooperation of our European colleagues, we asked the Kuwaiti authorities to regulate the work of travel agencies, especially the regulation of the imposed prices.” Ambassador Le Flecher reiterated that the French Embassy works exclusively with the service provider in the “Cabago’’ office to collect visa applications, and there are no other offices accredited to issue visas. Also, Ambassador Le Flecher praised the recent visit of Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah to Paris, describing it as an important and fruitful visit, as he chose France as the first country on his European tour. She said, “The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to continue the strategic dialogue between them to develop and strengthen bilateral relations. The strategic dialogue meeting, which Sheikh Salem Al- Abdullah will soon co-chair with his French counterpart Catherine Colonna includes sub-working committees on various topics such as education, security, trade and health.” It is worth highlighting that the two ministers, during the visit and their meeting, particularly emphasized their common vision regarding the stability of the region, especially within the framework of France’s efforts to promote the expected “Baghdad Conference”, which will be held in Iraq in October and in which Kuwait will participate at a high level, like it did in the previous two editions of the conference. During the meeting with his counterpart, Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah stressed the importance of extending the visa period granted to Kuwaitis, and Minister Colonna in turn expressed her interest in this issue.

Meanwhile, the Italian Ambassador to Kuwait Carlo Baldocchi described the recent visit of Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah to Italy as successful and fruitful by all standards, reports Al-Anba daily. In an exclusive press interview, he explained that the visit laid down a road-map for the future of Kuwaiti-Italian relations towards more strategic cooperation and a qualitative shift in terms of strengthening ties and building bridges of communication and understanding between the two friendly countries. It resulted in the signing of three very important memorandums of understanding that will open new horizons for the benefit of the two friendly nations.

Ambassador Baldocchi revealed happy news for Kuwaitis regarding the Schengen exemption file, which will be announced in September in Brussels, indicating that it will not be the final stage, but it is an important step forward. He said his country’s foreign minister confirmed to Sheikh Salem Al-Abdullah that his country will make great efforts to facilitate the obtaining of long-term, multi-entry visas for Kuwaitis at the current stage. Ambassador Baldocchi highlighted periodic consultations with the Kuwaiti side in the field of military cooperation as an essential pillar of the strategic dialogue between the two countries. He stressed that the Eurofighter deal is proceeding according to agreed standards, affirming that Kuwait has received nine Eurofighter aircraft so far and will receive two or three more within a few weeks, while the rest of them will be delivered by the end of 2024.

Source- Arab Times.

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