British foreign secretary avoids controversy in Bahrain talk

AP News
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Posted: Dec 09, 2016 2:11 PM

MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — Britain's outspoken foreign secretary has stayed away from controversy in a speech to Mideast leaders after earlier criticizing ally Saudi Arabia.

Boris Johnson gave a speech Friday night marking the start of the Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain.

Johnson's speech came after The Guardian newspaper released a video this week of him saying U.K. ally Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran, are engaged in Mideast "proxy wars."

Friday's comments avoided that, instead focusing on how Britain was expanding its military presence in the Gulf, mentioning its under-construction naval base in Bahrain.

Johnson called Britain's decision to leave the Gulf in the 1970s a mistake, saying: "Your security is our security."

He also said he supports the Iran nuclear deal, though he stressed the need to remain "clear-eyed and vigilant."