Escalating situation in Middle East tops agenda as PM meets allies at summit

The northern European allies will also discuss the war in Ukraine.

Dominic McGrath
Friday 13 October 2023 08:33 BST
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak having breakfast with the crew on board HMS Diamond (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak having breakfast with the crew on board HMS Diamond (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

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Rishi Sunak will discuss the dangerous conflict in Israel and Gaza, as well as the war in Ukraine, when he meets northern European allies in Sweden.

The Prime Minister is on the Baltic island of Gotland for a UK-led defence grouping, amid the backdrop of the escalating situation in the Middle East.

Ahead of the Joint Expeditionary Force summit he met Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson aboard the HMS Diamond, where Mr Sunak stayed the night. He served breakfast to and met with Navy crew members early on Friday.

The Prime Minister said leaders would use the summit to talk about “how we can work together to strengthen our security”.

“Welcome aboard our frigate, it is great to have you here,” Mr Sunak told his counterpart.

“It is a symbol of the co-operation, I think, between our two countries that we are able to meet here today.”

The gathering in Gotland comes after the attack by Hamas over the weekend pushed Israel and Gaza to the top of the global agenda.

Ahead of his arrival in Sweden, the Prime Minister confirmed the UK would send Royal Navy vessels and surveillance aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel.

Mr Sunak said the deployment would “support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation”.

The 10-strong Joint Expeditionary Force grouping includes Sweden, Denmark, Estonia and Iceland.

In a meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Mr Sunak briefly spoke about the experience aboard.

“The first time a British prime minister has done it in 50 years, slept overnight – the last time it happened was half a century ago,” he said.

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