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Defence Secretary Grant Shapps visits US for urgent talks in support of global stability amid Gaza-Israel crisis

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  • UK has sent military assets to the eastern Mediterranean to prevent escalation and provide humanitarian support
  • Visit comes less than a week after UK and US defence secretaries met at NATO HQ in Brussels
  • As the Prime Minister visits Israel, UK is clear that the situation in the Middle East will not distract the world from Ukraine

Following Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israel and Ukraine’s continued defence against Putin’s illegal invasion, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps visited Washington D.C. for the first time in his role to hold urgent talks with his counterpart and members of Congress, in support of global stability.

The UK and US stand firm in our shared commitment to uphold international law and protect civilian lives wherever freedom is challenged. That commitment has been clear in the last week as our two countries have led the response to prevent escalation in the Middle East, and support Israel’s right to defend itself – taking all steps possible to minimise civilian casualties.

Prior to the trip, Grant Shapps held calls with his Israeli counterpart, Minister Gallant, to set out the UK’s support to Israel and to urge the importance of a proportional response to the situation.

The Secretary of State has also been speaking with his opposite numbers in Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt to coordinate the response and prevent escalations.

The Defence Secretary’s visit came as the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary travelled across the Middle East to discuss the importance of avoiding escalation and a growing humanitarian crisis.

The Prime Minister ordered the deployment of surveillance aircraft and RFA ships to the Eastern Mediterranean to support regional stability and announced the UK will provide a further £10 million in humanitarian aid funding for civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs).

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:

The UK and US are determinedly standing up to aggressors and terrorists and supporting our friends and partners in the fight for freedom and security.

Our nations were the first to provide Ukraine with the sustained support they need to beat Russia, and now we’re working alongside regional partners to prevent escalation and protect civilians in the Middle East.

At such a crucial time for global stability, the urgent talks I have held with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, US Members of Congress and my counterparts in the Middle East underline the UK’s enduring commitment to peace and prosperity.

On Wednesday, Defence Secretary Shapps met US Secretary for Defense Lloyd Austin to discuss the UK and US’s continued support for global security and prosperity, including the Middle East, Ukraine and AUKUS. These topics were also discussed with Congress representatives Adam Smith and Mike Rogers, as well as senators Roger Wicker and Jack Reed, during Shapps’ meetings on Capitol Hill which sought to strengthen the deep defence political and political ties with Congress.

The Defence Secretary also visited the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) headquarters in Virginia. The NGA delivers geospatial intelligence for the military service and intelligence professionals, as well as emergency services and has cooperated closely and provided support to the UK for more than half a decade.

Speaking during engagements in the US, the Defence Secretary made clear the crisis in the Middle East will not distract the UK or our allies and partners from our unwavering resolve to provide Ukraine with the support it needs to repel Russia’s barbaric invasion. The joint efforts of the international community, led by the UK and US, have ensured Putin continues to fail in his goal of conquering Ukraine.

The Defence Secretary also paid his respects to all those sacrificing their lives for Ukraine’s freedom at Holodomor memorial where he laid a wreath in their honour, and the memory of the millions killed by the famine 90 years ago.

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