After a White House ceremony honoring the emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, US President Donald Trump said that 'seven or eight countries' want to be part of the trend toward normalization with Israel.
Trump added that Kuwait is "excited" about regional developments and "fairly quickly" will be a part of it.
Kuwait is understood to be cautious on normalization at this time, and has so far made no official statement after Trump's comments.
Trump made his remarks at a White House press briefing after meeting with a Kuwaiti delegation where he presented the Legion of Merit, Degree Chief Commander, to the emir.
In a statement announcing the award, the White House noted that it is a "rarely awarded, prestigious decoration that can only be bestowed by the president."
The emir is the first recipient since 1991.
Trump referred to the emir as his "dear friend" in the announcement. Sabah received the distinction due to strong relations he has maintained with the United States as foreign minister and then emir of Kuwait, according to the release. The White House cited Kuwait’s support during the 2003 Iraq war and in the fight against the Islamic State.
“A leader in the Middle East for decades, the emir has been a truly unwavering friend and partner to the United States,” read the White House statement.
The White House also praised Sabah’s efforts to resolve conflicts in the Middle East. Most recently, Kuwait has mediated the diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain..
The emir's "tireless mediation of disputes in the Middle East has bridged divides under the most challenging circumstances,” said the White House.
Kuwait conducts an independent foreign policy, maintaining strong ties with the United States but also warm relations with its neighbor and US foe, Iran. The kingdom has also stayed neutral in the Saudi Arabia-Qatar dispute involving its Gulf neighbors. In July, Sabah flew to the United States for medical treatment.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker visited Kuwait last month, where they discussed the UAE normalization agreement with Israel, the Gulf Cooperation Council rift, and the US-Kuwait strategic dialogue next month.
During his visit, Schenker denied putting any pressure on Kuwait to normalize ties with Israel.