UK FM Boris Johnson says Iranian missiles fired at Saudi Arabia ‘unacceptable’

Britain's Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has called the launching of Iranian missiles at Saudi Arabia from Yemen is “unacceptable”. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 March 2018

UK FM Boris Johnson says Iranian missiles fired at Saudi Arabia ‘unacceptable’

LONDON: The launching of Iranian missiles at Saudi Arabia from Yemen is “unacceptable” and Tehran’s role in the country should be constrained, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said.
In an interview with Arab News’ sister newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, Johnson said Britain understood “Saudi Arabia’s need to defend itself and we understand his Royal Highnesses desire to protect his country.”
“It’s unacceptable that Iranian missiles are being used against Saudi Arabia and we wish to see an end to that,” the foreign secretary said.
Saudi Arabia, which is leading an Arab military coalition in Yemen in support of government forces against Iran-backed rebels, has been targeted by missiles fired across the border. Many are shorter range, hitting areas near the border, but the Houthis have increasingly launched longer range ballistic missiles, including several targeting Riyadh that were shot down.
UN experts in January reported they had “identified missile remnants” and other military equipment brought into Yemen of Iranian origin that violated an arms embargo.
Britain drafted a UN Security Council resolution last month on renewing an arms embargo on Yemen that would have put pressure on Iran over the supply of missiles to the Houthis. The council eventually adopted a resolution that failed to condemn Tehran after Russia vetoed the British version, drawing an angry reaction from the US and London.
In the interview published as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman started his three-day visit to the UK, Johnson said he agreed with Arab states’ concerns over Iran’s role in the region. “We want to see Iran’s role in Yemen constrained,” he said.
Johnson said Britain understands the legitimate government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was removed and there’s a UN resolution calling for him to be restored and that the Arab coalition is seeking to achieve that.
But he added that it was going to be difficult to get an exclusively military solution and that there needs to be political progress.
Prince Mohammed’s visit is expected to include discussions on security and the conflicts playing out in the Middle East.
Johnson described the situation in Syria as a “major tragedy” and said he agreed with Saudi Arabia on the need to relaunch negotiations in Geneva to start a political process.
He condemned the regime bombardment of Eastern Ghouta that has killed hundreds in the past two weeks and that the regime should be held accountable for its “disgusting” chemical attacks.
Johnson also said the raft of reforms launched in Saudi Arabia encouraged the UK to bolster cooperation with the kingdom.
He praised the Crown Prince for shifting Saudi Arabia away from its dependence on oil, adding that this opened up possibilities for partnership in cultural, health, transportation, technology, education and political fields.

"We are happy to have our son back"

Updated 41 min 15 sec ago

"We are happy to have our son back"

  • Parents of Indian national released from Peshawar jail rejoice
  • Detained for alleged espionage, Ansari had reportedly entered Pakistan from Kabul to meet a girl he had befriended online

NEW DELHI: After spending six years in a Pakistani jail on charges of alleged espionage, Indian national Hamid Ansari finally saw the light of day after being released by Islamabad on Tuesday.

In search of a better livelihood, Ansari had reportedly left his hometown of Mumbai in India to look for a job in Afghanistan.

In 2012, however, he allegedly entered Kohat, in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, to meet a girl he had befriended on social media.

Pakistan, however, said that Ansari, an engineer, was an Indian spy who had illegally entered the country while accusing him of being involved in anti-state crimes and forgery, prior to sentencing him to six years in jail.

Since 2015, Ansari had been lodged in a jail in Peshawar where he ended his prison term last week.

“We are happy that we'd be able to see our son again,” an emotional Nehal Ahmad Ansari, his father, told Arab News.

His mother, Fauzia Ansari, added that Ansari's release was "an end of a painful period in our life".

Speaking to reporters, she said: "It’s a new birth for Hamid. He will begin his new life. We will support him for his rehabilitation, good health and better future.”

Nehal, on his part, thanked the government of India and Pakistan "for every effort" made in helping repatriate his son.

Ansari's entire family, along with a large number of peace activists, were present at the Wagah border to receive him. 

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs expressed “great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in Pakistan jail is coming to an end.”

In a press statement released on Monday, Kumar asked “Pakistan to take action to also end the misery of other Indian nationals and fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed and who have completed their sentences, but continue to languish in Pakistan jails.”