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Kuwait forms first government under new emir and prime minister

Qatari PM Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim al Thani at International Conference of Council for Arab and International Relations in Kuwait City

DUBAI (Reuters) -Kuwait on Wednesday formed a government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, the state news agency said, the country's first cabinet after the death of its previous ruler.

Sheikh Mohammed appointed new ministers for oil, finance and foreign affairs in the first cabinet formed under Kuwait's new Emir Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, which he said would carry out reforms to comply with the emir's guidance.

"This is a heavy responsibility of a new phase of Kuwait's history which includes challenges and aspirations, and requires further hard work and genuine accomplishment," the prime minister said, quoted by KUNA.

The prime minister appointed Emad Mohammed al-Atiqi as oil minister, Anwar Ali al-Mudhaf as finance minister and Abdullah Ali al-Yahya as foreign minister.

Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who came to power in December after his predecessor Sheikh Nawaf died, is expected to preserve Kuwaiti foreign policies including support for Gulf Arab unity, Western alliances, and good ties to Riyadh - a relationship seen as a priority.

Kuwait will have to grapple with long-running strains between the ruling family and its critics in the deadlocked and fractious parliament that critics say has hindered fiscal and economic reform.

The legislature wields more influence than similar bodies in other Gulf monarchies, and political deadlock has for decades led to cabinet reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament.

(Reporting by Clauda Tanios; Writing by Tala Ramadan; Editing by Michael Georgy, Barbara Lewis and Angus MacSwan)