British FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Want End to Iranian Missiles Fired at Saudi Arabia

British FM to Asharq Al-Awsat: We Want End to Iranian Missiles Fired at Saudi Arabia

Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 - 08:30
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. (AFP)
London - Ibrahim Hamidi
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stressed on Tuesday that the visit to London by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, will pave the way for new strategic ties with Riyadh.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that talks with Saudi officials will discuss bolstering bilateral ties, as well as the situation in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia has the right to defend its security, he stressed. It is completely unacceptable that Iranian missiles are launched at the Kingdom by the Houthis in Yemen.

He demanded an end to such violations, saying that London shares Riyadh’s concern over Iran’s role in the Middle East. Addressing the crisis in Yemen, the official stated that a political settlement must accept including a role for the Houthis in the Yemen government.

Iran’s role in Yemen must be reined in, he demanded.

Turning to Syria, Johnson described the situation there as a “major tragedy”. He said that he agreed with Saudi Arabia on the need to launch negotiations in Geneva and kick off the political process.

He also deemed as heinous the developments in Eastern Ghouta that has for weeks come under intense regime bombardment that has left hundreds of civilians dead. Johnson hoped that the Russians and Syrian regime would be convinced that they cannot win the war this way.

They are sowing spite for generations to come, he warned. A political process is necessary and the Syrian opposition should be part of discussions to reach a political settlement in the country.

Commenting on the regime’s chemical attacks, Johnson said that it should be held accountable for its disgusting actions.

Asked to confirm whether US President Donald Trump was studying the possibility of launching a new strike against Syria, he replied that there was no specific proposal. He added however that the US president’s decision last year to attack the Shayrat base in April was the right call.

Washington ordered the strike in wake of a chemical attack in Syria’s Khan Sheikhoun region a few days earlier.

Addressing Prince Mohammed’s visit to London, Johnson noted that the Crown Prince had launched a reform program in Saudi Arabia, saying that he is headed in the right direction. This encourages London to bolster cooperation with Riyadh.

He hailed the Crown Prince for shifting Saudi Arabia away from dependence on oil and steering it towards artificial intelligence and information economy. Johonson said that this opens up possibilities for partnership in cultural, health, transportation, technology, education and political fields with the Kingdom.

The British government, he explained, will hope to address building a partnership that extends not just to the near future, but establishes infrastructure that can extend to generations to come.

The changes introduced in a great and leading Muslim country such as Saudi Arabia will pave the way for change throughout the Islamic world, predicted Johnson, while citing Riyadh’s decision to allow women to drive and decision to open movie theaters in the Kingdom.

He voiced his admiration for Prince Mohammed, hoping that Britain could be a part of the new changes in Saudi Arabia.

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