Theresa May marks Armistice centenary in Belgium, France

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron visit the World War I French-British memorial at Thiepval, France. (Reuters)
Updated 09 November 2018
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Theresa May marks Armistice centenary in Belgium, France

  • Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel accompanied May to the St. Symphorien cemetery near Mons
  • A wreath combining poppies and le bleuet, the two national emblems of remembrance was placed by Macron and May at the Thiepval Memorial

SOMME VALLEY, France: Prime Minister Theresa May laid a wreath at a cemetery in Belgium and traveled to northern France on Friday to honor 700,000 British soldiers killed in World War One, on the eve of commemorations to mark the centenary of the Armistice.
Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel accompanied May to the St. Symphorien cemetery near Mons, where she laid tributes at the graves of the first and last British soldiers killed in the war. May said the commemorations were a time to “reflect on our shared history, but also look ahead to our shared future.”
More than 500 German and British Commonwealth soldiers are buried at the St. Symphorien cemetery.
Among them is Private John Parr, a reconnaissance soldier who was killed on Aug. 21, 1914, when his commanding officer sent him into enemy territory on his bicycle to gather intelligence on German military moves. He was 17 years old.


Parr’s headstone stands opposite that of George Ellison, the last British soldier to lose his life in the war. He died 90 minutes before the Armistice came into effect on Nov 11, 1918.
“That their graves lie opposite each other is a fitting and poignant symbol that brings home the eternal bond between them, and every member of the armed forces who gave their lives to protect what we hold so dear,” May said.
“We remember the heroes who lost their lives in the horror of the trenches. As the sun sets on 100 years of remembrance, we will never forget their sacrifice.”
Michel tweeted: “The duty of memory is a must.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron lay a wreath of flowers at the Thiepval Memorial. (Reuters)

May also held a working lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron in Albert, a town in the heart of the Somme region, as she steps up efforts to court European support for a Brexit agreement.
The two leaders then attended a ceremony at the Thiepval Memorial. A wreath combining poppies and le bleuet, the two national emblems of remembrance, has been made for the occasion.
Thiepval’s memorial stands on high ground overlooking the Somme river, where some of the heaviest fighting of World War One took place. It commemorates more than 72,000 British and South African soldiers who died and have no known grave.

 


UK’s Hunt to make first visit to Iran

Britain's Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt leaves 10 Downing Street in London on November 14, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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UK’s Hunt to make first visit to Iran

  • Jeremy Hunt: “The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearised Iran. It needs 100 percent compliance though to survive”

LONDON: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will visit Iran for the first time on Monday for talks with the Iranian government on issues including the future of the 2015 nuclear deal, his office said in a statement.
In May, US President Donald Trump abandoned the deal, negotiated with five other world powers during Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration, and earlier this month the United States restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and transportation sectors.
Hunt’s office said he would meet Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and would stress that the UK is committed to the nuclear deal as long as Iran sticks to its terms. He will also discuss European efforts to maintain nuclear-related sanctions relief.
“The Iran nuclear deal remains a vital component of stability in the Middle East by eliminating the threat of a nuclearised Iran. It needs 100 percent compliance though to survive,” Hunt said in a statement ahead of the visit.
“We will stick to our side of the bargain as long as Iran does. But we also need to see an end to destabilising activity by Iran in the rest of the region if we are going to tackle the root causes of the challenges the region faces.”
Hunt will also discuss Iran’s role in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, his office said, and press Iran on its human rights record, calling for the immediate release of detained British-Iranian dual nationals where there are humanitarian grounds to do so.
“I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country’s leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage,” he said.