December 15, 2015 / 3:52 PM / in 2 years

IOC ready for talks with banned Kuwait, says Bach

A folder and a pen are pictured on a table before the start of the Executive Board meeting at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland December 8, 2015.Denis Balibouse

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - The Kuwaiti government must "come to the table" and resolve the sports law which has caused the country to be banned from the International Olympic Committee, IOC president Thomas Bach said on Tuesday.

Kuwait was suspended in October for the second time in five years over government interference in the country's Olympic Committee.

The sports ministry has also ordered the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to vacate its headquarters in Kuwait by April 2016. The head of the OCA is Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, an influential IOC member.

Kuwaiti media reported on Saturday that a court had handed out a six-month suspended prison sentence to Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, a senior member of the ruling family and a powerbroker in international sport, for quoting remarks by the country's ruler without permission.

The Gulf Arab state's constitution describes Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah as "immune and inviolable". Quoting him without permission from his court is punishable under Kuwaiti law.

Bach, attending a meeting to celebrate the 120th anniversary of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, said the prison sentence was a separate issue from the sports law.

"This is justice in Kuwait, it's nothing to do with the sports law or sport," Bach told a news conference.

"The IOC will respect the law of a sovereign country."

But he said the law which led to Kuwait's ban needed to be changed.

"We will insist on our worry that the sports law is in compliance. I think this is also in the interest of the Kuwait authorities and the Kuwaiti athletes to ensure this compliance and not forcing their other federations to escalate the issue.

"They have to come to the table," Bach said.

"The IOC has always made it clear it is ready to address the various stipulations of the law that need to be changed."

Editing by Ed Osmond

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