Earlier today Foreign Secretary William Hague had a working lunch with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who is on a two-day official visit to the UK. During his visit Mr Meridor also met Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt and National Security Adviser Sir Kim Darroch.
Speaking after the meeting, the Foreign Secretary said:
“The UK and Israel have a strong and deep relationship. I was delighted today to welcome Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Meridor.
“We welcomed the excellent progress on trade between the UK and Israel, which increased last year by 34% to £3.75 billion. We discussed our growing co-operation in the high-technology sector, as reflected in the launch this week of the UK-Israel Technology Council.
“We also discussed issues of pressing national and international security. We both recognise the seriousness of the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear programme and agree on the urgent need for Iran to co-operate fully with the IAEA and engage in meaningful talks with the E3+3. I outlined Britain’s policy of a dual track approach of pressure and engagement, while keeping all options on the table.
“We also discussed our mutual concerns at the current state of the Middle East Peace Process. The dramatic events in the region over the past year mean that finding a lasting peace is more important than ever and even more vital for Israel’s long-term security. Achieving this will require bold and courageous leadership on both sides. I outlined our concerns about the continuing occupation of the Palestinian Territories, including the impact of continued settlement-building and restrictions on Gaza on the prospects for peace. All sides need to make active efforts to prevent deterioration and to avoid steps that run counter to a two-state solution”.