UK and Qatar agree on closer defence and security ties

Kuwait’s Defence Minister “praised the depth of the deep-rooted historical friendship” between the two nations during his meeting with Mr Cleverly…reports Asian Lite News

Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has met with high-level dignitaries at Kuwait City’s Al Bayan Palace to discuss ways to bolster ties with the Gulf nation.

On his second day of a whistle-stop tour of the region, Mr Cleverly held talks with Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Sabah, Defence Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah and Foreign Minister Sheikh Salem Al Sabah.

The Kuwaiti Army shared footage and photos of the meeting in a post on social media. It said the Defence Minister and his guest talked about ways to “enhance co-operation and joint work between the two friendly countries”.

Areas of bilateral co-operation were touched on in talks, with a particular focus on military and defence.

“The most important developments and situations on the regional and international arenas were also reviewed,” according to the Kuwaiti Army’s Twitter account.

Kuwait’s Defence Minister “praised the depth of the deep-rooted historical friendship” between the two nations during his meeting with Mr Cleverly.

Belinda Lewis, Britain’s Ambassador to Kuwait, was among those present at the summit.

He hailed the strength of the UK-Qatari bilateral partnership following meetings with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah.

“A historic partnership with a bright future,” Mr Cleverly wrote on Twitter alongside photos of his discussions in Qatar.

“Closer co-operation on security, defence and economy benefits both our countries.”

Cleverly highlighted the joint work between the Royal Air Force and the Qatar Emiri Air Force to “keep the Middle East safe [and] to keep the region protected.”

Footage shared by the Foreign Office in London showed the Foreign Secretary inspecting military planes that form part of 12 Squadron – the joint UK-Qatar Typhoon squadron.

“Thank you 12 Squadron for all you do to keep us safe,” Cleverly said. He thanked his hosts for offering a “warm welcome” on his first visit to the Gulf nation since attending the Fifa World Cup last November.

The UK’s military co-operation with Qatar dates back to the formation of the nation in 1971.

In May 2022, the allies signed a deal under which Qatar agreed to invest up to £10 billion over five years in key sectors of the UK economy. Cyber security, financial technology, life sciences and zero emissions vehicles were some of the areas earmarked for funding.

The Foreign Office in London said “trade and investment with the Gulf is vital to support the Prime Minister’s priorities to grow the economy”.

Rishi Sunak has made economic growth and the creation of better paid jobs one of the five pillars of his leadership. Cleverly is due to arrive in Jordan on Thursday for the final part of his Middle East tour.

Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan are “important energy, defence and security partners for the UK”, Britain’s Foreign Office said.

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