UK foreign secretary visits Saudi Arabia, Qatar to boost economic and security ties

Liz Truss says she wants closer trading and investment relationship with the Gulf

  
Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives at Downing Street in London, Britain February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

Britain's International Trade Secretary Liz Truss arrives at Downing Street in London, Britain February 11, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

LONDON: UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss began a trip to the Gulf region on Wednesday, aimed at boosting economic and security ties.

“I want a closer trading and investment relationship with the Gulf and for us to collaborate more closely on issues like intelligence sharing, development, security and defense,” Truss said.

The first leg of her tour begins in Saudi Arabia, where she will meet with Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to “discuss closer cooperation on regional security, development, human rights and counter-terrorism, and how the two nations can build economic links as part of the Kingdom’s plan to diversify its economy,” Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said.

Her trip includes a visit to Qatar, where she will meet with Emir Sheikh Tamim and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman, to discuss cooperation on Afghanistan and regional security. She will also visit a facility housing people who have left Afghanistan in recent weeks.

“Qatar has played a critical role in supporting safe passage for those seeking to leave Afghanistan, including over 100 British nationals since the UK’s evacuation operation ended in late August,” the statement said, adding that the most recent flight arrived in Doha on Monday carrying 17 British nationals.

She will also launch a UK-Qatari strategic dialogue, which will form the basis for deeper bilateral cooperation on security, development, trade and investment.

“The foreign secretary sees both Saudi Arabia and Qatar as important partners in deepening the UK’s economic, technology and security and defense ties with friends and allies around the world,” the statement also said.

Following its exit from the European Union, the UK has began a free trade deal with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which will boost trade — already worth over £30 billion ($41.4 billion) — by creating new opportunities for UK exporters and closer two-way investment ties, the foreign office said.

“Closer security and economic ties with Gulf allies will help us deliver jobs and opportunities for people back in the UK and ensure as friends and partners that we are operating from a position of strength in the world,” Truss said.

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