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Sun 4 Dec 2016 11:29 AM

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British PM to visit Gulf to boost post-Brexit ties

Theresa May will arrive in Bahrain on Tuesday to discuss trade with GCC

British PM to visit Gulf to boost post-Brexit ties
British Prime Minister Theresa May. (Getty Images)

British Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to meet GCC leaders in Bahrain this week in a bid to strengthen ties as the UK prepares to leave the European Union (EU).

Her office said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg that her visit is intended to herald the start of a new chapter in relations between the UK and the Gulf.

May is expected to attend a dinner with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the UAE on Tuesday night, and separately hold bilateral meetings with each leader.

Among the topics to be discussed during the two-day visit are the situations in Yemen and Syria, as well as relations with Iran, security cooperation and how to bolster trade ties, according to Bloomberg.

The statement from May’s office reportedly said: “There is so much we can do together – whether it is helping one another to prevent terrorist attacks, Gulf investment regenerating cities across the UK or British businesses helping Gulf countries to achieve their long-term vision of reform.”

“I hope my visit will herald the start of a new chapter in relations between the United Kingdom and the Gulf – a true strategic partnership that enables us to together seize the opportunities ahead and ensure the security and prosperity of our people.”

Bahrain’s King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa met May last month during a visit to the UK described by foreign minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa as a step towards developing “strategic relations among the GCC countries and the UK in a way that serves the interests of both parties…[and] boosts world security and peace”.

Sheikh Khalid has met GCC secretary general Abdul Lateef Al Zayani and the UK Ambassador to Bahrain, Simon Martin, in Manama in preparation for May’s visit this week, Gulf News reported.

Meanwhile, the UK will host the first annual summit between the UK and GCC next year, while British foreign secretary Boris Johnson is to attend the Manama Dialogue at the end of the week, chancellor Philip Hammond will visit the region in the new year and home secretary Amber Rudd is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia in March.