Britain has given its strong backing for Saudi Arabia’s transformative Vision 2030 project as Alistair Burt, the foreign office minister for the Middle East, visited the region.
In Riyadh for bilateral meetings with the Governments of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Mr Burt met Adel Al Jubeir, the Saudi Arabia foreign minister. Mr Burt highlighted common UK-Gulf security interests and discussed a range of issues.
“Saudi Arabia is one of our strongest regional allies and we continue to work closely together in a range of important areas. We support the delivery of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform programme, Vision 2030, and the need to resolve the ongoing dispute with Qatar,” he said after the trip to the Saudi capital.
Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, met with Mr Burt to discuss efforts to boost cooperation between the GCC and Britain. In particularly both sides stressed the need to follow up the outcomes of the Gulf-British summit held in Bahrain in December 2016.
The meeting also touched on the latest developments in the political and security situation in the region and issues of common concern.
Mr Burt discussed the humanitarian and economic situation in Yemen with President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi and Foreign Minister Abdulmalik Abduljalil Al Mekhlafi.
“Central to all of my meetings was the ongoing conflict in Yemen,” said Mr Burt. “I made clear my concern that this conflict was now contributing to the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, and that the longer it continued the worse the situation would get. I also stressed the importance of keeping space open for the humanitarian community. Everyone agrees that urgent steps must be taken to make progress towards a political solution.
“The UK is playing a central role in these efforts and I call upon all parties to the conflict to show the flexibility required to keep the political process moving.”
Mr Hadi explained his eagerness for peace and the relaunch the Friends of Yemen group which was set up in 2010 to help bolster international political support for Yemen and to assist Yemeni-led efforts to tackle the underlying causes of instability.
Friends of Yemen is an association of 39 countries launched to provide international political support for the stability of Yemen. It is coordinated by the UK, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. There have been four ministerial meetings with Friends of Yemen, the last was held on September 2012.
“We welcome and continue to welcome the efforts of peace and the latest proposal of the UN envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Sheikh Ahmed on the port of Hudaydah and Sana’a International Airport,” Mr Hadi said.