The security of the Gulf is crucial and essential to Britain’s security, Prime Minister Theresa May insisted yesterday in her speech at the 37th Gulf Co-operation Council Summit in Bahrain. May pledged to launch a GCC-UK Strategic Partnership to foster closer relations in all fields, including politics, defence, security, and trade. Opportunities for people-to-people contact will be enhanced, she said, as well as the development of collective approaches to regional issues to advance the shared interest in stability and prosperity.
“I am determined that we should seize the opportunity to get out into the world and to shape an even bigger global role for my country: yes, to build new alliances, but more importantly, to go even further in working with old friends, like our allies here in the Gulf, who have stood alongside us for centuries,” May said in her speech at the Sakhir Palace in Manama, flanked by the kings of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and the leaders of Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. As security risks increased in the Arab region and Western countries alike, she added, it is essential to “work together” in order to combat terrorism.
The British prime minister stressed the UK’s commitment to securing, through the new GCC-UK Strategic Partnership, the security interests shared by Britain and the GCC in the Gulf region, including deterring and responding to external aggression. The two sides pledged to enhance defence cooperation, including efforts to defeat Daesh, and especially in maritime and cyber security through the new partnership.
May pointed out that the terrorism which targets Gulf States is also targeting Britain. British intelligence has received many warnings from Saudi Arabia about terrorist threats, said the prime minister, which saved many lives.
The fight against Daesh in Syria must be made “together,” she told the summit. In doing so, the Conservative Party leader highlighted the recent gains made against the militant group. She also explained that the regional conflicts can only be resolved through diplomacy.
On the economic side, the British premier said that she had been “encouraged by recent economic and social reforms” that the GCC members “have taken forward and by the bold vision set out by all of the Gulf States for more fundamental and lasting change.” As an example, she cited the economic reforms laid out in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
During her speech, which laid out Britain’s plans for a £3bn defence investment in the GCC region, May said that trade relations with the Gulf States would be enhanced as the UK prepares to leave the European Union. “We will make it a priority, when the UK leaves the European Union, to build the closest possible commercial and economic relationship,” she insisted.