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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

UK chief diplomat Jeremy Hunt to visit Saudi Arabia and UAE

British foreign secretary will bring up regional issues as well as explore future relationships with both countries

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt lays a wreath at the Cenotaph in London on November 11, 2018, at the First World War Armistice centenary memorial. Getty
UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt lays a wreath at the Cenotaph in London on November 11, 2018, at the First World War Armistice centenary memorial. Getty

As part of Britain’s continuing moves to position itself post-Brexit, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt embarked on a visit of Saudi Arabia and the UAE on Monday.

Amid talks on the UK’s future relationships with both countries, Mr Hunt will discuss the situation in Yemen and the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

On his trip he will meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir, Yemen Vice President Ali Mohsen Al Ahmar and Yemen Foreign Minister Khaled Al Yamani.

As reported in The National last week, Mr Hunt wants to build support for the United Nations Security Council to take action to bolster the UN-led peace process in Yemen, following a meeting with UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths at the end of October.

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Mr Hunt will also use his meetings to push for an investigation into Mr Khashoggi’s death, as well as raising the case of Matthew Hedges, the British academic accused of spying in the UAE.

Speaking of the situation in Yemen, the UK foreign secretary said: “The human cost of war in Yemen is incalculable: with millions displaced, famine and disease rife and years of bloodshed; the only solution is now a political decision to set aside arms and pursue peace.

“Britain has a unique position, both as pen-holder at the UN Security Council and as a key influencer in the region, so today I am travelling to the Gulf to demand that all sides commit to this process.

“We are witnessing a man-made humanitarian catastrophe on our watch: now is the window to make a difference, and to get behind both the UN peace process and current UK efforts in the Security Council.”

Talking of Mr Khashoggi, Mr Hunt said: “We encourage the Saudi authorities to co-operate fully with the Turkish investigation into his death, so that we deliver justice for his family and the watching world.”