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London Stresses Riyadh’s Pivotal Role in Peace

London Stresses Riyadh’s Pivotal Role in Peace

Thursday, 21 February, 2019 - 07:00
Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is seen outside of Downing Street in London, Britain, February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Riyadh - London - Abdulhadi Habtor and Asharq Al-Awsat
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has underlined the “strategic partnership” between London and Riyadh, which he said would boost his country’s efforts to end the war in Yemen.
 
During a visit to Berlin on Wednesday, Hunt noted that the British-Saudi partnership helped parties to the Yemeni conflict to agree on the Stockholm Agreement under the auspices of the United Nations.
 
“The strategic relationship that the UK has with Saudi Arabia is what allows us to have a huge influence in bringing about peace in Yemen,” he said.
 
Hunt’s comments came as Germany decided to freeze arms exports to Saudi Arabia. The move was also met with opposition from other European powers, including France, where President Emmanuel Macron has labeled it “pure demagoguery.”
 
“Britain and Germany have the same objectives, but we need to be able to continue that strategic relationship [with Saudi Arabia] in order to make sure that there is a European voice at the [Yemeni] table doing everything we can to press for peace,” the British foreign secretary emphasized.
 
He added that he would raise the issue with Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Berlin, following reports that the British minister had written to his German counterpart to complain about the arms embargo.
 
Britain’s foreign ministry confirmed that Hunt sent a letter to Maas, but did not elaborate on its content.
 
Citing the letter, German Der Spiegel reported that London had urged Berlin to exempt major European defense projects from the weapons embargo.
 
In Riyadh, British Minister of State for the Middle East Alistair Burt underlined Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in Yemen, pointing out that Riyadh was the largest donor of humanitarian aid in the country.
 
Burt, who conducted a visit to a number of Gulf states, stressed Britain’s keenness to achieve progress in the Yemeni talks, taking into consideration the country’s humanitarian situation.
 
“Saudi Arabia is the biggest donor of humanitarian efforts in Yemen,” he said, adding that during his visit, he discussed the upcoming donor conference in Geneva.

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