UK PM Rishi Sunak welcomes launch of EU operations in Red Sea

British Prime Minister and EU President Ursula von der Leyen express concern for loss of life in Gaza

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen in London in February 2023. AFP
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British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen on Sunday discussed Ukraine, the death of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, migration, the Gaza crisis and Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

The leaders agreed during a phone call that it is important that significantly more aid reaches those who need it in Gaza and expressed concern for the loss of life during the war.

They also condemned the recent Houthi attacks against commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

Mr Sunak and Ms von der Leyen welcomed efforts such as Prosperity Guardian and Operation Aspides to restore stability, keep people safe and ensure vessels are free to navigate through the area.

On the war in Ukraine, both leaders underscored the importance of providing support to the Ukrainian people, with Mr Sunak welcoming the recent announcement that the EU will provide the country with a €50 billion [$54 billion] support package.

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With the UK and Frontex due to formalise an agreement in coming days to tackle illegal migration, the leaders welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations on the new working arrangement.

Mr Sunak and Ms von der Leyen also expressed their outrage at the death of Alexei Navalny, and underscored the utmost importance of holding those responsible within the Russian system to account.

Their conversation was held before the UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron was to speak to EU foreign ministers by video call on Monday.

Updated: February 19, 2024, 5:38 AM