Boris Johnson picks up the phone to Erdogan and Sisi

Britain’s new PM looks to forge ties in the Middle East

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he meets with Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas at 10 Downing Street in central London on August 6, 2019. / AFP / POOL / Dominic Lipinski
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone call on Monday thanking him for providing shelter to Syrian refugees.

“The leaders agreed to work together to build on the close relationship between our two countries,” the UK’s foreign office said.

“They discussed the importance of bilateral co-operation on counterterrorism and ways in which we might strengthen our bilateral trading ties.”

Mr Johnson was part of the 2016 Leave campaign calling for Britain to end its membership of the European Union.

The campaign had stoked fears about possible migration from Turkey while Mr Johnson previously raised the idea that Turkey – whose application to join the EU had stalled – could eventually become an EU member and its citizens would eventually able to migrate to the UK.

A week before referendum day in June 2016, Johnson and Michael Gove wrote a joint letter to David Cameron claiming that the government supported the idea of Turkish membership of the EU.

“The public will draw the reasonable conclusion that the only way to avoid having common borders with Turkey is to vote leave and take back control on 23 June,” the letter stated.

Britain’s prime minister can trace his ancestry back to a remote village 110 kilometres north of Turkey’s capital Ankara.

Mr Johnson also held a call with President Sisi of Egypt.

The UK’s Foreign Office said the PM “acknowledged the significance of Egypt as a market for British investment”.

They are expected to meet at the upcoming G7 summit in Biarritz, France.