UK condemns firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen into Saudi Arabia

International Development Secretary for the UK Penny Mordaunt sees UK aid for Yemen in a WFP warehouse in Djibouti. (Photo: UK Department for International Development - DIFD/Benet Coulber)
Updated 17 January 2018
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UK condemns firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen into Saudi Arabia

LONDON: The International Development Secretary for the UK Penny Mordaunt has condemned the firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen toward Saudi Arabia and also called for continued commercial and aid access throughout Yemen‎.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Mordaunt, who visited Saudi Arabia and Djibouti in December to call for access and meet aid workers, said: “I heard about some of the heartbreaking tragedies suffered by Yemenis when I met with refugees and international aid workers last month.
“I am pleased restrictions on access have since been eased at the ports of Hodeidah and Saleef, allowing 19 ships to deliver food and critical fuel. This is already saving lives by ensuring hospitals can continue delivering essential medical care, water can be pumped into major cities, grain can continue to be milled into flour and food transported to those most in need.
“But the situation in Yemen remains dire and will deteriorate rapidly unless unhindered access is maintained, especially to the north of the country.
“With Yemen importing 90% of its food and fuel, it’s essential that Hodeidah and Saleef ports remain fully open to help millions of people who are at risk.
“We recognize Saudi Arabia’s legitimate security concerns and will continue to provide support to prevent illegal arms smuggling into Yemen – this does not require stopping humanitarian and commercial supplies from reaching those in need.
“The UK Government strongly condemns the continued firing of ballistic missiles from Yemen toward Saudi Arabia. We continue to support Saudi Arabia to strengthen efforts to prevent the flow of illegal weapons by providing extra UK support to the UN’s Verification and Inspection Mechanism.
“We are also engaging with Saudi Arabia’s plans to develop an operational humanitarian plan for Yemen.”
Since access reopened, 19 ships have been permitted to enter Hodeidah and Saleef ports, unloading 260,000 metric tons of food and over 95,000 metric tons of fuel. The UK is the second-largest humanitarian donor to the UN’s Yemen Appeal behind Saudi Arabia and third-largest donor overall.


UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

Updated 19 September 2018
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UK warns dual nationals over travel to Iran, as France holds on envoy nomination

  • Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016
  • France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

LONDON: Britain on Wednesday advised British-Iranian dual nationals against all but essential travel to Iran, tightening up its existing travel advice and warning it has only limited powers to support them if detained.

The advisory came in tandem with France’s decision to hold off on appointing a new ambassador to Iran, as it seeks clarification over an attempt to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in June

“The Foreign Secretary (Jeremy Hunt) has taken the decision to advise against all but essential travel by UK-Iranian dual nationals to Iran,” a foreign office spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
“British citizens who also hold Iranian nationality face risks if they travel to Iran, as we have seen all too sadly in a number of cases. The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, so if a dual national is detained our ability to provide support is extremely limited.”
Earlier this month Britain’s Middle East minister Alistair Burt used a visit to Iran to discuss cases of detained dual nationals, alongside other diplomatic issues.
Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation who was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport as she headed back to Britain with her daughter, now aged four, after a family visit.
She was convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment, a charge denied by her family and the Foundation, a charity organization that is independent of Thomson Reuters and operates independently of Reuters News.
Meanwhile, France will not name a new ambassador to Tehran before getting information from Iran following a foiled plot to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in Paris last June, French officials said on Wednesday.
An Iranian diplomat based in Austria and three other people were arrested on suspicion of plotting the attack on a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a “false flag” operation staged by figures within the opposition group itself.
The incident has hit relations just as France and its European partners are seeking to salvage a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.
France’s ambassador to Iran departed in the summer. Iran has also yet to replace its departed ambassador to Paris.
“We have a charge d’affaires today in Tehran and there is a high-level dialogue between French and Iranian authorities,” said a French presidential source.
“We are working together to bring to light what happened around this event ... I wouldn’t say there is a direct link (in not appointing an ambassador), but Iran has promised to give us objective facts in the coming weeks that would allow us to pursue our diplomatic relationship as it is today.”
A French diplomatic source said the nomination had indeed been suspended as a result of the alleged plot.
France’s Foreign Ministry in August told its diplomats and officials to postpone non-essential travel to Iran indefinitely, citing the plot and a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.
President Emmanuel Macron is likely to discuss the issue with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani when they meet on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the source said.
Along with Britain and Germany, France is trying save a 2015 agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, which was thrown into disarray when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord in May and re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran.
Even so, tensions between Paris and Tehran have grown in recent months as Macron and his government have become increasingly frustrated with Iran’s activities in the Middle East region, in particular its ballistic missile program.