Published: 2017-11-30 14:02
Last Updated: 2017-11-30 14:07
British prime minister Theresa May is expected to make a major speech in Jordan today, setting out her post-Brexit vision for the UK’s role in the Middle East.
The prime minister is due to address an audience including Jordan’s prime minister, Hani al-Mulki, and much of his cabinet, at the end of a three-day visit that also saw her hold talks in Saudi Arabia on Yemen and make a surprise visit to Iraq.
The speech will reportedly outline both UK efforts to combat the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and the wider, long-term help on economic and social reforms, according to the Guardian.
May is also expected to underline the threat of dispersing Isis fighters, some of whom have massed near the north of Jordan.
She will also discuss the risk of ISIS fighters returning to Britain, after government figures estimated that around 850 UK-linked people of national security concern have travelled to the region to fight, with just under half having returned so far.
The prime minister is due to cover this threat in a part of the speech that will address the need for more direct security assistance in the region. This will reportedly include more security assistance for Jordan, as well as training for Iraqi forces to clear Mosul and Raqqa of explosive devices left by ISIS.
It is also reported that May will announce UK efforts to help the Jordanian economy in the longer term, including £60m in new grants, with a focus on education.
The speech will also discuss regular regional targets for May. She will reportedly stress that peace in Syria cannot realistically be achieved with Bashar Al Assad in control, and note what the UK believes are Iran’s efforts to destabilise the Middle East.
Part of the Iran question centres on one of the most pressing issue of Yemen. Late on Wednesday, the British leader met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and called on the kingdom to ease the siege on Yemen "as a matter of urgency" to avert "a humanitarian catastrophe", according to a statement published by May's office on Thursday.
Jordan is the last leg of May's three-day tour of the Middle East, which is part of her efforts to strengthen links with other trading partners as Brexit approaches.