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PM urges reform in the Middle East

Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered a speech urging political and economic reform in the Middle East at this "precious moment of opportunity for this region".

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Addressing the Kuwaiti Parliament at the start of his visit to the Gulf Region, the PM said that only freedom, justice and the rule of law will allow countries to meet the aspirations of their young populations who “yearn for something better”.

Mr Cameron also argued that democracy often goes hand-in-hand with open markets providing economic opportunities for Britain.

Yes, ours is a partnership based on a shared economic future as we need our economies to grow and diversify in this challenging globalised world. 

And yes, ours is a partnership to deliver shared security interests not least as we confront the terrorist threat we face from extremists.

But crucially, far from running counter to these vital interests of prosperity and security, I believe that political and economic reform in the Arab world is essential not just in advancing these vital shared interests but as a long-term guarantor of the stability needed for both our societies to flourish.

The PM stressed the importance of advancing shared interests, including economic relations, through improved security and stability. To help achieve this aim, he called for an “urgent return to talks” on the Middle East peace process, an increase in security co-operation with the aim of tackling extremism and a process of “governments engaging in dialogue with their people” across the region.

Mr Cameron added that he wished to offer a new chapter in Britain’s long partnership with the Gulf, one that recognised the importance of political and economic reform as well as shared interests in prosperity and security.

As a new British Government renews it partnership with the Arab world, I look from the new cities of the Gulf shores to the diversity of the Near East and North Africa. And I look forward to a future that is rich in prosperity strong in defence and open in its handling and pursuit of political and economic reform.

The PM also used the speech to condemn the recent violence in Libya and Bahrain.

The whole world has been shocked in the last few days by the appalling violence which the authorities in Libya have unleashed on their own people. 

Violence is not the answer to people’s legitimate aspirations.  Using force cannot resolve grievances, only multiply and deepen them.

During his visit to Kuwait, Mr Cameron marked the 20th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait by allied troops, including many UK forces, in the first Gulf War.

He was joined by former prime minister Sir John Major and several veterans of the conflict at a formal ceremony where he paid tribute to the 47 British troops who died in the conflict.

Speeches and transcripts: PM’s speech in Kuwait

Published 22 February 2011