British FM in Saudi Arabia for talks on Jamal Khashoggi, Yemen

Updated: 13 November, 2018 08:48 IST | AFP | Riyadh

The Foreign Office also said Hunt would raise the case of Matthew Hedges, a PhD student who denies charges of spying in the UAE

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi

British foreign minister Jeremy Hunt held talks Monday with Saudi King Salman, state media said, during a visit to press the kingdom over journalist Jamal Khashoggi's murder and the escalating Yemen war. Hunt, who is also expected to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, discussed the "latest developments in the region" with the 82-year-old monarch, the Saudi Press Agency said. The visit comes amid international outrage over the murder of Saudi insider-turned-critic Khashoggi in his country's consulate in Istanbul on October 2. "The international community remain united in horror and outrage at the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi one month ago," Hunt said ahead of his trip, which includes a visit to the United Arab Emirates.

"It is clearly unacceptable that the full circumstances behind his murder still remain unclear. "We encourage the Saudi authorities to co-operate fully with the Turkish investigation into his death, so that we deliver justice for his family and the watching world." Hunt, who is also seeking to build support for UN efforts to end the three-year conflict in Yemen, also met Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. Britain, along with the United States, are major suppliers of arms to Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition backing the Yemen government in its fight against Iran-backed Shiite Huthi rebels. Britain is seeking support among regional partners for new action at the UN Security Council for peace talks in Yemen.

"The human cost of war in Yemen is incalculable: with millions displaced, famine and disease rife and years of bloodshed, the only solution is now a political decision to set aside arms and pursue peace," Hunt said ahead of his trip to the Gulf. "Britain has a unique position, both as pen-holder at the UN Security Council and as a key influencer in the region, so today I am travelling to the Gulf to demand that all sides commit to this process.

"We are witnessing a manmade humanitarian catastrophe on our watch: now is the window to make a difference, and to get behind both the UN peace process and current UK efforts in the Security Council." Hunt's visit comes after British undersecretary for foreign affairs Simon McDonald held talks with Prince Mohammed and Jubeir in Riyadh. During his Gulf tour, Hunt will also meet Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar and Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yamani. The Foreign Office also said Hunt would raise the case of Matthew Hedges, a PhD student who denies charges of spying in the UAE.

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First Published: 13 November, 2018 07:18 IST

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