Sunak and Harris meet and agree on Israel's right to defend itself
Rishi Sunak and US Vice President Kamala Harris meet and agree on Israel’s right to defend itself – and vow to get more aid into Gaza
- Ms Harris is in Britain to deliver a policy speech on artificial intelligence
Rishi Sunak today welcomed US Vice President Kamala Harris at No 10 to discuss the ‘global situation’, including the raging conflict between Israel and Hamas.
A Downing Street spokesperson said, in a readout issued after the meeting: ‘The Prime Minister reiterated Israel’s right to defend itself against terror as well as the need to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza and to free hostages taken by Hamas.
‘Both agreed that the UK and US were aligned in these efforts and would continue to work with partners in the region to ensure stability.’
In her first visit to Downing Street, Ms Harris said Israel has a ‘right to defend itself’ and urged ‘no conflation between the Palestinian people and Hamas’.
She stressed that there ‘should not be any intentional targeting of civilians’.
Vice President Harris is visiting Britain to deliver a policy speech on Artificial Intelligence and to attend the AI Safety Summit 2023, organised by the UK Government, running Wednesday and Thursday.
Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (L) welcomes US Vice President Kamala Harris (R) at Downing Street in London, Britain, 1 November 2023
Rishi Sunak (L) greets Douglas Emhoff (R), husband of US VP Kamala Harris, at Downing St
US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) speaks with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) inside 10 Downing Street, in London, on November 1, 2023
The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty (back) welcome Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff (not pictured) to 10 Downing Street
A readout published by The White House said Ms Harris and Mr Sunak took the opportunity to discuss ‘the latest developments in Gaza including progress made today to allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza, which they welcomed’.
They also ‘discussed the importance of the protection of civilians in Gaza, the law of war and increasing the pace and scale of humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians in Gaza’.
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People mourn by the shrouded bodies at the morgue of Nasser Hospital on the 23rd day of Israeli airstrikes in Khan Yunis, Gaza on October 29, 2023
Ms Harris ‘welcomed the United States’ close cooperation with the United Kingdom on security and economic support to Ukraine, which is critical to sustaining Ukraine’s defense and democratic institutions in the face of Russian aggression,’ the readout said.
In remarks before the bilateral meeting, Ms Harris was quoted as saying: ‘We both, I believe, have stated quite clearly on behalf of our countries that we do believe that it is important that we stand in the sake and in the name of understanding Israel has a right to defend itself, but we also must ensure that there’s no conflation between the Palestinian people and Hamas, and rules of law, in terms of rule of war, should apply, which means that there should not be an — any intentional targeting of civilians and there should be the — the requirement that we meet the humanitarian needs of the people in that region.’
Ms Harris also took the opportunity today to thank Sunak for the UK’s stance taken on the conflict.
She said: ‘I also want to thank you for the position that you and the United Kingdom have taken in terms of what is happening in Israel with Hamas.
‘As we’ve both stated, Hamas is a terrorist organisation and what happened in Israel is horrendous by any measure.’
As Ms Harris arrived in Downing Street earlier today, protesters – some waving Palestinian flags – shouted ‘ceasefire now’.
Calls for a ceasefire have grown amid Israel’s heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
As well as hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, Palestinians and foreign nationals have been caught in the beleaguered Strip for weeks, unable to flee as food, water, power and medical supplies have run thin.
Earlier today, the first British nationals left Gaza via the Rafah border crossing from Gaza into Egypt, according to the Foreign Office said.
Officials said the crossing will be open for ‘controlled and time-limited periods’ to allow specific groups of foreign nationals and the seriously injured to leave Gaza.
A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said: ‘We will continue working with partners to ensure the crossing is opened again, allowing vital aid into Gaza and more British nationals to leave safely.
‘We are regularly updating all British nationals registered us.
‘The crossing will be open for controlled and time-limited periods to allow specific groups of foreign nationals and the seriously wounded to leave.
‘We have agreed a list of British nationals that want to leave Gaza with Egyptian and Israeli authorities. We will be informed in advance when those on the list can use the crossing to ensure we can provide assistance.’
US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) speaks with Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (R) inside 10 Downing Street about the ‘global situation’ including the conflict in the southern Levant
The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (CL) and his wife Akshata Murty (L) welcome the Vice President of the United States of America Kamala Harris (CR) and her husband Doug Emhoff (R) to 10 Downing Street
Kamala Harris, accompanied with her husband Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, leaves 10 Downing Street following a meeting with Rishi Sunak on November 1
Ms Harris is next due to attend the first international AI Safety Summit in Bletchley, Bucks, on Thursday.
Delegates from 28 nations, including the US and China, agreed to work together to contain the potentially ‘catastrophic’ risks posed by galloping advances in artificial intelligence.
The countries pledged to work towards ‘shared agreement and responsibility’ about AI risks, and hold a series of further meetings. South Korea will hold a mini virtual AI summit in six months, followed by an in-person one in France a year from now.
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