British Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan starting from April 3 to build “stronger partnerships” on security, defense and trade, her office announced on Monday.
Tackling the terror threat and developing new capabilities to strike at the heart of ISIS are the centerpiece of a new joint initiative between the UK and Jordan, she will announce later on Monday.
On her first visit to Jordan as Prime Minister, she will also confirm a plan to improve cooperation on countering violent extremism in the region in wake of the recent Westminster attack and discuss means of cooperation to address the repercussions of the Syrian conflict.
May is expected to reiterate commitment to providing humanitarian support to Jordan to bolster its capacity to handle the huge volumes of refugees, enabling the refugees to stay close to their homes and create meaningful long-term futures for themselves, said the PM’s press statement.
She will kick off her trip by visiting Amman where she is expected to agree new support for the Royal Jordanian Air Force to improve their capability to strike ISIS targets.
She will then visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and Wednesday, where she will “make clear that they are a close and important ally and that we will continue to work closely in a range of areas, particularly on counter-terrorism where UK-Saudi cooperation is vital.”
On trade, May is expected to explore ways of boosting “already very strong ties.” Saudi Arabia is currently the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, with exports of British goods standing at £4.67 billion and services at £1.9 billion in 2015.
Speaking ahead of the visit, the prime minister said: “As the UK leaves the EU, we are determined to forge a bold, confident future for ourselves in the world. We must look at the challenges that we, and future generations, will face and build stronger partnerships with countries that will be vital to both our security and our prosperity.
“It is clearly in the UK’s security and prosperity interests to support Jordan and Saudi Arabia in tackling regional challenges to create a more stable region, and in delivering their ambitious reform programs to ensure their own stability. An even deeper partnership with these countries, and greater knowledge and understanding of one another, will increase our ability to address the issues that concern us, including the promotion of international standards and norms.
“To tackle the threats we face from terrorism and from geopolitical instability, we must meet them at their source. Jordan is on the frontline of multiple regional crises and I’m clear that by working with them, we are helping keep British people safe.
“Likewise in Saudi Arabia: we must never forget that intelligence we have received in the past from that country has saved potentially hundreds of lives in the UK. And there is so much we can do together on trade, with immense potential for Saudi investment to provide a boost to the British economy.
“So I hope my visit will herald a further intensification in relations between our countries and deepen true strategic partnerships, enabling us to seize the opportunities ahead and ensure the security and prosperity of our people for decades to come,” she concluded.
May last visited Jordan in 2012 in her capacity as Home Secretary. She also visited Saudi Arabia in March 2014.