British defence minister meets Middle East officials as London arms fair continues

British defence minister meets Middle East officials as London arms fair continues
British Defence Minister Ben Wallace met with officials while the DSEI arms fair continues at the ExCeL exhibition centre in London.
2 min read
16 September, 2021
British defence minister Ben Wallace spoke to a Qatari delegation on the sidelines of the DSEI arms fair [Getty]

British Defence Minister Ben Wallace met with Middle Eastern officials on Wednesday as one of the world's largest arms fairs continued in London.

Wallace met with a Qatari delegation and Iraqi Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani, among a host of other world leaders while the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair, whose in-person events are running from 14-17 September.

Wallace met with the Qataris on the sidelines of the fair at London's ExCeL convention centre, the British defence ministry said.

The ministry said the two countries "share many security challenges and goals".

Their relationship will build on the "success" of the joint UK-Qatar squadron of Typhoon fighter jets that began flying last year, the ministry added.

Qatar is a key Gulf ally to the UK. The two countries agreed to form a second joint squadron in a meeting earlier this year.

Kurdish President Barzani and Wallace discussed the war on the Islamic State group (IS) and the need for cooperation between the Peshmerga and Iraq federal forces, according to a statement from the Kurdistan Region Presidency.

British support for the Kurdish forces, which currently includes training and weaponry, were also discussed, according to the statement.

Barzani will also meet other senior British leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The DSEI arms fair takes place in London once every two years. Officials from all around the world are able to meet with exhibitors, which include some of the world's biggest arms manufacturers.

Demilitarisation activists say the fair "heavily subsidises and promotes the arms industry".

London mayor Sadiq Khan has also called for the exhibition to be scrapped.