World leaders must do “everything possible to prevent” the violence in Israel and Gaza from spilling over into a wider Middle East conflict, Rishi Sunak and the Qatari leader have agreed.
The Prime Minister met with the Amir of Qatar in Saudi Arabia on Friday before jetting off to Egypt, the third stop on his tour of the region, part of a diplomatic effort to stop the Israel-Hamas war from escalating.
It comes after Israel’s troops were told to prepare for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, which remains under heavy bombardment as Tel Aviv fights back against Hamas’s incursion on October 7 that killed 1,400 people.
Qatar is seen as a key mediator in the battle, with Doha using its ties to the Palestinian militant group to negotiate for the release of about 200 hostages taken during the deadly assault on Israel.
Mr Sunak has held meetings with Israeli leaders and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia since starting his lobbying tour of the Middle East on Thursday.
The Prime Minister’s continued visit to the Middle East comes as he faces domestic difficulties from the loss of two safe Tory seats in Westminster by-elections.
During discussions with Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Riyadh, No 10 said the pair “underlined the imperative of avoiding any escalation in the violence across the region”, agreeing that “leaders had a responsibility to do everything possible to prevent it”.
A spokesman said Mr Sunak thanked Qatar for their efforts to secure the release of hostages, including at least two British nationals who are known to be among those being held captive.
The No 10 spokesman added: “He said the UK Government would use all the tools at our disposal to support these efforts and end the torment of the victims and their families.
“The leaders agreed to stay in close contact to continue these efforts.”
The two leaders also welcomed humanitarian aid being opened up to Gaza, agreeing on the “urgent need to get food, water and medicine to civilians who are suffering”.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister would hold further meetings with counterparts from the region in Egypt.
Published: by Radio NewsHub