As the UK faces “serious dangers” like Russia, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said it was “appropriate” to establish better ties with Gulf regimes accused of violating human rights.
Ms. Truss was questioned by a committee of MPs over how her strategy of opposing authoritarian states applied to UK-Gulf relations.
She claimed to have discussed human rights concerns with the presidents of Gulf states.
But when Ms. Truss was repeatedly asked to give an example, she refused to divulge the specifics of private conversations.
Concerns have been raised by critics over the human rights records of Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mass executions in Saudi Arabia have drawn condemnation from the UN, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been linked to the 2018 slaying of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist for the Washington Post.
Nevertheless, the UK government has long had cordial relations with Saudi Arabia and has collaborated on economic, military, and diplomatic projects.
The UK government announced last week that trade talks with the six Gulf Cooperation Council nations had begun (GCC).
Additionally, in March, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with Gulf leaders in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to talk about energy security.
According to Mr. Johnson, Western nations must stray away from Russian fossil resources and look into other alliances, such as those with Gulf governments, some of which are major global producers of oil and gas.
Ms. Truss has recently called for the UK to stop being strategically dependent on nations with authoritarian governments in several speeches and papers.
Chris Bryant, a Labour MP and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, questioned Ms. Truss on Tuesday about how she would characterise the Gulf states in light of her foreign policy objectives.
Then, Mr. Bryant inquired about Mr. Khashoggi’s 2018 murder at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.
A UN investigator concluded that Mr. Khashoggi was “the victim of a determined, calculated killing” despite Saudi Arabia’s claims that he had been slain in a “rogue operation.” Prince Salman has consistently denied being involved.