RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ties with the UK have always been significant and will remain so under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a senior British government minister told Arab News on Wednesday.
“I would describe the relationship as warm, cordial and positive,” said Andrew Murrison, Minister of State at the Department for International Development and Minister for the Middle East at the Foreign Office.
“Saudi Arabia is extremely important to the UK and we have ties that have gone back for many, many years, and I am confident that that will continue in the course of the new government.”
Amid threats from Iran to commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, the new British government has pledged naval support to a US-led maritime task force to protect vessels in the Arabian Gulf.
“Our ambition is to always deescalate and to turn down the temperature, and that’s been our narrative throughout,” Murrison said. “So I would want there to be a non-military solution to this, and that is what I would urge on the various parties.”
Murrison was in Riyadh for talks with Saudi officials, and a meeting with British Ambassador Simon Collis to announce the opening of applications for the annual awards for Saudi alumni of British academic institutions.
He particularly welcomed his meeting with his Saudi opposite number Adel Al-Jubeir, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. “We discussed a whole range of topics. We had a two-hour meeting and I’m extremely grateful to the minister for spending so long with us. We undertook to meet again very soon.”