The UK “is back” in the Persian Gulf region and will remain committed to the security of its Arab allies there in the foreseeable future, says British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson.
Speaking at the annual Manama Dialogue security forum in the Bahraini capital on Friday, Johnson said London was looking to strengthen old relationships in the wake of a shock referendum vote in June to leave the European Union (EU).
“This is about building on and intensifying old friendships,” Johnson said. “Britain has been part of your story for the last 200 years, and we will be with you for the centuries to come.”
Pledging to spend 3 billion pounds on security ties with the Arab allies over the next decade, Johnson said the UK would “still be able to stick up for our friends and partners in the (Persian) Gulf,” long after leaving the EU.
“Your security is our security,” the minister told the leaders of the Persian Gulf Arab states.
Johnson tried to stick to the points made by UK Prime Minister Theresa May during her trip to the tiny Persian Gulf country earlier this week.
Addressing the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) on Wednesday, May said London and its allies in the region had agreed to form a “strategic partnership” and foster military and other ties.
“As part of the renewed relationship that I want to forge with you, the United Kingdom will make a more permanent and more enduring commitment to the long-term security of the [Persian] Gulf,” she told leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.
Johnson was due in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he was expected to discuss the Riyadh regime’s ongoing war against Yemen with Saudi officials.
At a conference in Rome last week, he accused the oil-rich kingdom of engaging in “proxy wars.”
Acknowledging the pain Yemeni people were going through due to a months-long Saudi military campaign, Johnson said “force only” was not the solution to the unprovoked war.
May did not like that view and after returning from the Persian Gulf visit said that Johnson’s stance only reflected his “personal position.“