Friday, December 1, 2023
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AMMAN — UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Tuesday will begin a three-day tour to the Middle East meant to emphasise the UK’s growing, mutually beneficial partnerships within the region. The visit, which will include Jordan, Qatar and Kuwait, comes after the UK government’s recent announcement that citizens from Jordan and the Gulf countries will benefit from the UK’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation visa scheme, which will make travel to the UK cheaper and easier for visitors.

On his visit to Jordan, scheduled for Thursday, the Foreign Secretary is expected to announce up to £1.5 million to support initiatives for women and girls. The funding will go towards civil society organisations, a statement from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said. He will also meet with representatives from the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and the World Food Programme, where he is slated to announce funding of £30 million over three years to provide cash assistance and support to the poorest refugees. The funding is projected to cover refugees’ basic food and living needs — reaching an estimated 70,000 refugees per year, both in camps and host communities.

The UK considers all three countries important partners in energy, defence and security. Further, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has placed trade and investment with Gulf countries among his vital priorities for the UK’s economic growth strategy. UK trade with Qatar and Kuwait was worth £18.1 billion last year alone, the statement said. Cleverly said: “I am delighted to be back in the Middle East. The UK’s mutually beneficial relationships with the Gulf and Jordan continue to thrive. We have a bright future together. “From working together on shared goals like developing stronger trade ties and security, I am proud of how we are collaborating for the benefit of us all.

“The UK also remains committed to supporting refugees and host communities, collaborating with our partners to help the most vulnerable in the region.”

In his first stop in Qatar, the Foreign Secretary will meet with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani. He will then travel to Kuwait to meet Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, and explore opportunities to strengthen cooperation. In his visit to Jordan, Cleverly is also scheduled to meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.


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