Wednesday, February 28, 2024

UK Middle East minister begins three-nation Gaza mission in Oman

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Britain’s Middle East Minister Tariq Ahmad is starting a regional security trip where the war in Gaza and Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping will top the agenda.

Lord Ahmad will start in Oman on Monday before moving to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

He will discuss regional peace and security, including the Gaza war, and mark the UK’s easing of visa requirements allowing Gulf nationals to apply for the Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme.

“We want to see an end to the fighting in Gaza as soon as possible, and it is clear that wider escalation and instability in the region is in nobody’s interests,” Lord Ahmad said.

“Our engagement with partners in the Middle East, including Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is absolutely central to efforts towards achieving a sustainable, permanent ceasefire in Gaza and building wider regional security.”

He is expected to meet key figures including Saudi Arabia’s deputy foreign minister, the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al Issa, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Al Yahya and Oman’s undersecretary for political affairs, Sheikh Khalifa Al Harthy.

Lord Ahmad will discuss how to ease the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including through an immediate humanitarian pause in fighting leading to a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.

He will outline the British efforts to counter Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea and make clear that the attacks by the Houthis are considered completely unacceptable.

In Oman, Lord Ahmad will co-chair with Sheikh Khalifa a session of the UK-Oman joint working group.

In Kuwait, he will co-chair the UK-Kuwait joint steering group alongside Sheikh Jarrah Jaber Al Sabah, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In the past two weeks, Lord Ahmad has visited the UAE and Lebanon as the Gaza war rages and the humanitarian crisis worsens.

He will use the trip to promote the UK ETA scheme, which has opened for GCC and Jordanian nationals, making travel to the UK smoother and cheaper.

The scheme will allow unlimited visits to the UK over two years.

Updated: February 12, 2024, 12:01 AM

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