United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday congratulated the Kuwaiti people for passing a law granting women for the first time the right to vote and run for political office, describing it as a "historic step".

The United States offered its congratulation to Kuwait for the historic parliamentary vote on Monday that gave Kuwaiti women political rights, and said the US strongly supported the action taken by Kuwait's parliament.

"We offer our congratulations to the leadership of Kuwait, the Kuwait National Assembly, and to the people of Kuwait on the passage today of full political rights for Kuwaiti women. The US strongly supports today's development," a government statement issued by the State Department late on Monday said.

Britain welcomed the decision on Tuesday, describing it as "important step."  And France said the decision was important and a real progress.

"The Kuwaiti parliament pronounced definitively yesterday to give voting rights and eligibility (for office) for Kuwaiti women. We praise this important decision," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei told the Kuwaiti news agency Kuna.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the Organisation of Islamic Conference, said on Tuesday granting Kuwaiti women political rights showed how the Kuwaiti society and democracy had developed.

In a statement to Kuna, Ihsanoglu congratulated the Kuwaiti people, in particular women, for this "important democratic result."

Ihsanoglu said the voting's result showed that political rights of women did not contradict with the Islamic Sharia.

Syrian parliamentarians on Tuesday also welcomed the Kuwaiti parliament's decision and described the move as "historic and fair" and a real addition to democracy in Kuwait.