UK government distances itself from Saudi 'proxy war' claims

AP News
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Posted: Dec 08, 2016 9:54 AM

LONDON (AP) — Britain's foreign secretary has claimed that U.K. ally Saudi Arabia was engaging in "proxy wars" in the Middle East — comments that Prime Minister Theresa May say do not represent Britain's position.

The Guardian on Thursday published footage of Boris Johnson speaking during a conference last week. He said there was no strong leadership in the Middle East willing to reach out beyond the Sunni-Shia divide, and "that's why you've got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in and puppeteering and playing proxy wars."

Downing Street was quick to distance itself from the comments, which were unusual because officials rarely, if ever, criticize allies in public. May's spokeswoman Helen Bower said they are Johnson's own views and do not reflect Britain's policy on Saudi Arabia and its role in the region.