Defence Secretary Grant Shapps travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to drive forward work to maintain regional stability.

UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week to drive forward work to maintain regional stability, protect civilians and strengthen the UK’s defence partnerships.

He met with leaders in both countries as part of the UK’s coordinated diplomatic efforts to prevent a wider conflict in the Middle East and ease tensions across the region, with officials and ministers working closely with more than 40 nations. The Defence Secretary also met his counterpart in Washington DC last week to coordinate the UK and US’s response to the crisis.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:

I’m here in the Middle East to work with some of our most valued defence partners to prevent escalation and protect all civilians.

Only by working together can we stop more innocent families being plunged into suffering.

On Wednesday, the Defence Secretary held talks in Riyadh with Defence Minister His Royal Highness (HRH) Khalid bin Salman. He underscored the UK’s priority of protecting civilians and deterring an escalation that undermines regional stability. The recent deployment of UK military assets in the eastern Mediterranean supports this priority by deterring any malign interference in the conflict.

De-escalation was also top of the agenda in Abu Dhabi, where the Defence Secretary met with President HRH Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Defence Minister Mohammed Al Bowardi. He underlined that the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf partners have a key role to play as interlocutors, mediators and leaders.

The visit came as the UK delivered twenty-one tonnes of life-saving aid for Palestinian civilians in Gaza, including wound care packs, water filters and solar lights. The aid is part of the £30 million increase in humanitarian support for the Occupied Palestinian Territories announced by the Prime Minister.

The UK remains committed to mitigating the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and calling for international humanitarian law to be respected, while standing alongside the people of Israel against the terrorist group Hamas.

Published 26 October 2023