Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz and visiting British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond discussed Tuesday the latest turmoil in Iraq, which borders the oil rich kingdom, state news agency SPA reported.
Hammond’s stop in Jeddah is the first on a Gulf tour that will also take him to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait, amid uncertainty triggered by the Iraqi crisis.
Prince Salman holds the Saudi defence portfolio, and the two men discussed “cooperation between the two countries and ways to strengthen it, in addition to regional and international developments,” SPA said.
The tour provides an “occasion to discuss the need to find a political solution for the crisis in Iraq,” a diplomat in Saudi Arabia said.
Hammond headed on to Dubai later Tuesday, where he met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and UAE defence minister, state news agency WAM reported.
They discussed “ways to consolidate the bases of peace and security” in the Gulf region, WAM said.
Speaking ahead of the visit, Hammond voiced concerns about Iraq, where militants led by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have made major advances against forces of the Shiite-led government.
“The UK is deeply concerned by the recent developments in Iraq and the gains made by ISIL. Although the UK is not planning a military intervention, we are committed to finding a long-term political solution,” Hammond said.
“We remain committed to the security of the Gulf and want to reassure our friends and allies that we will do everything possible to support those who are working for a stable and democratic Iraqi state and to alleviate humanitarian suffering,” he added.