The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May on surprise visit to Baghdad Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May on surprise visit to Baghdad

May will visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan during a three-day trip to Middle East [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 November, 2017

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Theresa May and Haider al-Abadi discussed "efforts to restore stability and economic cooperation while respecting the unity of Iraq and its constitution", an Iraqi official said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May paid a surprise visit to Baghdad on Wednesday where she met her Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi, his office said.

"Mr Abadi welcomed the British prime minister and her delegation," Abadi's press secretary Haidar Hamada told AFP.

May's visit came after Iraqi forces backed by an international coalition including Britain ousted the Islamic State group from swathes of Iraq it had controlled since 2014.

Hamada said May had confirmed Britain's "great support for Iraq and its admiration for Iraqi victories and great courage" in the battle against IS.

The meeting also came two months after Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence in a referendum bitterly contested by Baghdad.

Hamada said the British premier had "reiterated her support for the unity of Iraq".

The leaders also discussed "efforts to restore stability and economic cooperation while respecting the unity of Iraq and its constitution," he added.

The visit comes as May embarks on visits to Saudi Arabia and Jordan during a three-day trip to the Middle East in a bid to bolster regional ties.

On Wednesday she held talks with Saudi Arabia's assertive crown prince on issues including Qatar and Yemen. She is then due to head to Jordan for meetings with King Abdullah II and Prime Minister Hani Mulki.

"This visit demonstrates that as the UK leaves the EU we are determined to forge a bold, confident future for ourselves in the world, a spokesman for May said.

"It is clearly in the UK's security interests to support Jordan and Saudi Arabia in tackling regional challenges to create a more stable region, and in delivering their ambitious reform programmes to ensure their own stability," he added.

May's visit to Saudi Arabia included her asking Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to allow humanitarian aid through Yemen's port of Hodeidah, held by the Houthi rebels being targeted in the Saudi-led war.

Britain has signed off on more than £3.3 billion (€3.7 billion, $4.4 billion) worth of arms sales to Riyadh since March 2015. During that time Saudi Arabia has embarked on a bombing campaign in Yemen that has been condemned for contributing to a humanitarian disaster.

"We are very clear that we want to see full humanitarian and commercial access through the port of Hodeidah," May said on Tuesday. "Obviously that is an issue I will be raising when I am in Saudi Arabia."

Saudi Arabia closed off Yemen's seaports and airports over a November 4 rebel ballistic-missile launch that targeted the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The kingdom said it intercepted the missile, the deepest yet to penetrate the country.

Under intense international pressure, Saudi Arabia later promised it would reopen the ports for humanitarian aid.

The Saudi-led coalition began its war in Yemen in March 2015 claiming it was on behalf of Yemen's internationally recognised government against the Houthis and their allies.

The conflict has pushed the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine, killed over 10,000 civilians, displaced three million people and left much of the infrastructure in ruins.

May has faced increasingly calls to stop British arms sales to Saudi Arabia amid the conflict, which has seen kingdom-led airstrikes kill hundreds of civilians. 

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More