A Guide to the United States’ History of Recognition, Diplomatic, and Consular Relations, by Country, since 1776: Kuwait


Under British protectorship since 1899, Kuwait became fully independent in June 1961. Strategic cooperation between the United States and Kuwait increased in 1987 with the implementation of a maritime protection regime that ensured the freedom of navigation through the Gulf for 11 Kuwaiti tankers that were reflagged with U.S. markings. The U.S.-Kuwaiti strategic partnership intensified dramatically again after Iraq’s August 2, 1990, invasion of Kuwait.

Modern Flag of Kuwait


U.S. Recognition of Kuwaiti Independence, 1961.

On June 19, 1961, Kuwait became fully independent following an exchange of notes with the United Kingdom that terminated the Anglo-Kuwaiti Treaty of 1899 and therefore provided for Kuwaiti independence.

Despite the fact that Kuwait was technically still a British protectorate prior to June 1961, the Department of State noted in July 1961 that the United States had “for some time recognized Kuwait as a sovereign state as evidenced by U.S. consular officers in Kuwait receiving exequaturs from the Ruler of Kuwait, and by the conclusion in 1960 of an agreement respecting visas directly with the Government of Kuwait.” The United States opened its first consulate in Kuwait on June 27, 1951, and concluded a bilateral agreement with Kuwait on non-immigrant passport visas in an exchange of notes on December 11 and 27, 1960.

Consular Presence

U.S. Consulate in Kuwait, 1951, with interruptions.

The United States opened its first consulate in Kuwait on June 27, 1951. It opened to the public on October 15, with Enoch Duncan as U.S. Consul to Kuwait.

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the American Embassy in Kuwait, 1961.

Diplomatic relations were established on September 22, 1961, by agreement between the governments of both states. The American Embassy in Kuwait was established on the same date when the American consul in Kuwait, Dayton Mak, was designated Chargé d’Affaires.

Evacuation of American Embassy Staff, 1990.

American Ambassador W. Nathaniel Howell and the Embassy staff left Kuwait on December 13, 1990, in the wake of Iraq’s armed occupation of Kuwait that began on August 2, 1990.

American Embassy Reopened, 1991.

The American Embassy reopened on March 1, 1991, following the expulsion of Iraqi armed forces from Kuwait by the military forces of the United States and a multinational coalition.


  • Department of State Country Fact Sheet: Kuwait
  • Department of State Country Information: Kuwait