UK foreign minister visits Oman, Saudi Arabia to boost post-Brexit ties

LONDON, March 2 (Reuters) - British foreign minister Dominic Raab will on Monday begin his first official visit to the Gulf for talks with leaders in Saudi Arabia and Oman, expected to cover trade, human rights issues and climate change.

Raab, appointed foreign minister in July last year by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will also meet with Yemeni leaders in an attempt to re-energise efforts to find a political solution to the five-year long civil war there.

The visit is aimed at re-affirming Britain's ties in the region as it seeks to define its new role on the global stage after leaving the European Union in January.

"The Gulf is important to UK security, but it's also a region of enormous opportunity. Both Oman and Saudi Arabia want to grow in sectors such as health, education and culture where the UK leads the world," Raab said in a statement.

"I look forward to discussing trade, regional security, climate change and human rights in this pivotal region."

Raab will travel to Oman first for talks with Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.

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He will then meet the Saudi leadership for discussions which will include trade, Saudi Arabia's presidency of the G20 and Britain's hosting of the COP26 climate summit.

Whilst in Riyadh, he will meet Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Raab will "seek the opportunity to push for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen, following the recent surge in Houthi violence," the foreign office statement said.

(Reporting by William James. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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