UK Middle East Minister to visit UAE to discuss building sustainable ceasefire in Gaza

Lord Ahmad also seeks to build momentum on the UK initiative for an international ‘Contact Group’ for long-term peace and stability in the region

Lord Ahmad, UK Middle East Minister, will visit the UAE to discuss the conflict and the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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UK Middle East Minister Lord Ahmad will visit the UAE on Monday for talks about building a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza.

The minister will travel to Abu Dhabi, where he is expected to meet Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, to discuss the conflict and the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave.

He will also look to build momentum on the UK initiative for an international ‘Contact Group’ for long-term peace and stability in the region.

Speaking ahead of the trip, he said: “The humanitarian situation in Gaza is desperate and there is an urgent need for an immediate pause to get life-saving aid in and hostages out.

“The UK remains firmly committed to working with our key partners – like the UAE – to secure an immediate pause in fighting, make progress towards a sustainable ceasefire, and build momentum towards a long-term political solution to the crisis.”

Lord Ahmad will also meet Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Co-operation and Dr Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Adviser to the President, former minister of state for foreign affairs.

The visit follows a tour last month, which saw the Foreign Secretary visit Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Turkey, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon to discuss the conflict and regional security.

Speaking recently to Arab ambassadors in London, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron called for the establishment of a diplomatic campaign by “all the friends of a Palestinian state”.

“We with allies will look at the issue of recognising a Palestinian state including at the United Nations,” Lord Cameron said at the reception. “This could be one of the things that helps to make this process irreversible.”

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It comes after UK and the US have carried out the latest in a series of strikes on Houthi sites in Yemen after the Iran-backed rebel group began attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea, a vital global trade route.

A joint statement confirmed that 35 targets had been hit in 13 different locations on Saturday.

US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said that the action would “send a clear message to Houthis” to stop attacks against shipping in the Red Sea.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said the fresh assaults were “not an escalation”.

“The Houthis' attacks on commercial and military vessels in the Red Sea are illegal and unacceptable and it is our duty to protect innocent lives and preserve freedom of navigation,” he said.

“That is why the Royal Air Force engaged in a third wave of proportionate and targeted strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen.

“We acted alongside our US allies, with the support of many international partners, in self-defence and in accordance with international law.

“This is not an escalation. We have already successfully targeted launchers and storage sites involved in Houthi attacks, and I am confident that our latest strikes have further degraded the Houthis' capabilities.”

Updated: February 05, 2024, 3:19 AM