OPINION: Trump builds a friendship with Kuwait that helps America

Meeting with the Emir of Kuwait at the White House this past week, President Trump hit the right notes. He has forged a strong friendship with this Gulf nation, and it will serve America’s interests.

Asked by a Saudi journalist whether he remains committed to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump presented honest optimism, “They say it is the world’s most complex and difficult deal. You know that. But it is something that could happen. I believe that the relationships that we have with both can help.” Although neither Israel nor the Palestinian Authority have shown recent energy in the peace process, Trump’s efforts here are rightly welcomed by the Sunni monarchies. And they matter for U.S. security in helping to address a conflict that fuels Islamic extremism.

Relations with Kuwaiti are imperfect. America disagrees with the emirate over the Syrian Civil War, where the Kuwaitis favor tougher action against Assad. Still, unlike former President Barack Obama’s blowout with the Sunni monarchies over his rapprochement with Iran, Trump has kept disagreements isolated, partly by relying on good advice. He also seems to have a knack for Arab culture and its dependence on exchanged respect and personal bonds. This was shown at the press conference’s conclusion, as the two leaders left the White House stage. Recognizing the Emir’s 88 years of age, Trump held hands with the monarch to help him down. Holding of hands in Arab culture is a deep sign of affection and respect, and one that Mr. Trump’s predecessor deliberately ignored.

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