KSA, UK share concern over Syria-Iraq turmoil
Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, held talks here Tuesday with visiting British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond on major regional and international developments, including the turmoil in Iraq and Syrian political crisis.
Hammond’s stop in Jeddah is the first on a Gulf tour that will also take him to the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait, amid uncertainty triggered by the Iraqi crisis.
According to the SPA, Prince Salman and Hammond discussed “cooperation between the two countries and ways to strengthen it, in addition to regional and international developments.”
Top Saudi military officers, including Chief of Staff Gen. Abdul Rahman Al-Binayan, Maj. Gen. Hussein Al-Assaf and Brig. Abdullah Al-Zagheibi, Saudi military attaché in the UK, attended the Jeddah talks.
The British minister’s tour provides an “occasion to discuss the need to find a political solution for the crisis in Iraq,” a Western diplomat in the Kingdom said.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Hammond voiced concerns about Iraq, where militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have made major advances against forces of Al-Maliki government.
“The UK is deeply concerned by the recent developments in Iraq and the gains made by ISIL. Although the UK is not planning a military intervention, we are committed to finding a long-term political solution,” Hammond said.
“We remain committed to the security of the Gulf and want to reassure our friends and allies that we will do everything possible to support those who are working for a stable and democratic Iraqi state and to alleviate humanitarian suffering,” he added.