Kuwaiti ambassador moves annual embassy party to Donald Trump’s new Washington hotel

Salem Al Sabah insists no one pressed him to move annual bash from Four Seasons amid accusations country seeking influencing with President-elect

Bradley Klapper
Wednesday 21 December 2016 09:36 GMT
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The recently-completed Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.
The recently-completed Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

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One of the Middle East's richest nations said it would host its annual Washington party at Donald Trump's new hotel, underscoring the president-elect's unusual status as the owner of a major venue for events in the US capital.

Salem Al Sabah, Kuwait's ambassador to the US, said the party would take place February 25, adding that he hopes guests like the “new hotel in town.” He said no one pressed him to move the Kuwaiti National Day event from its regular venue at the Four Seasons. Although Kuwait did not have a contract with the Four Seasons for the party, the date had been set aside for it to possibly take place there.

“I do not know President-elect Trump,” the ambassador told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “I do not know any of his people. None of his people have contacted me.” He added: “I thought would be exciting for our guests to see a new venue. It looks great. It looks cool. So let's do it.”

Al Sabah noted that last year's reception occurred at the Newseum, a museum promoting the media.

Nevertheless, the move to Trump's $200-million renovation of the Old Post Office Pavilion could reinforce questions raised about the incoming president's possible conflicts of interest. House Democrats already have warned that they'll make the splashy hotel a headache for Trump if he doesn't dump his ownership stake before taking office January 20. Trump has a six-decade lease on the property.

The Trump Organisation is moving to remove thorny overseas relationships, cancelling hotel licensing deals in Azerbaijan, neighbouring Georgia and Brazil.

Al Sabah ridiculed the notion that he would choose the D.C. hotel to curry favour with the next administration.

“We have very deep economic, military and cultural ties; we've had tens of thousands of American troops in our country,” he said, noting Kuwait's basing of forces for US operations in Afghanistan and to fight the Islamic State group. “You think a two-hour reception in a ballroom does that?”

AP

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