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Top UK diplomat heads to Saudi Arabia, Qatar to increase security, economic ties

“Closer security and economic ties with Gulf allies will help us deliver jobs and opportunities for people back in the UK and ensure as friends and partners that we are operating from a position of strength in the world,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

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The top British diplomat will begin her first visit to the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, on Wednesday as the UK looks to increase its economic and security ties with the region.

“Closer security and economic ties with Gulf allies will help us deliver jobs and opportunities for people back in the UK and ensure as friends and partners that we are operating from a position of strength in the world,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement ahead of her trip.

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Truss will first head to Saudi Arabia to meet her Saudi counterpart. The discussions will look to discuss “closer cooperation on regional security, development, human rights and counter-terrorism, and how the two nations can build economic links as part of the Kingdom’s plan to diversify its economy,” her office said in a statement.

Truss will then head to Qatar to meet her counterpart and Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad. In Doha, talks on Afghanistan will figure high on the agenda. Truss will also stop at the Park View Compound, a facility in Qatar where people who have fled Afghanistan are being housed.

“Qatar has played a critical role in supporting safe passage for those seeking to leave Afghanistan, including over 100 British nationals since the UK’s evacuation operation ended in late August,” the statement said.

Also, in Doha, the British diplomat will launch a Strategic Dialogue with Qatar.

“The Foreign Secretary sees both Saudi Arabia and Qatar as important partners in deepening the UK’s economic, technology and security and defense ties with friends and allies around the world,” the statement said.

Truss said she wanted a “closer trading and investment relationship with the Gulf,” adding that London also wanted to collaborate more closely on issues like intelligence sharing, development, security and defense.

The UK Foreign Office said that trade with the GCC was already worth more than £30bn, and a “free trade deal would boost that further by creating new opportunities for UK exporters and closer two-way investment ties.”

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