British foreign minister to admonish Iran on Middle East trip

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly speaks at the House of Commons in London, Britain, November 16, 2022. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON, Nov 18 (Reuters) - British foreign minister James Cleverly will say Iran poses a threat to the Middle East before watching its soccer team take on England at the World Cup during a regional trip which starts on Saturday, his office said.

Cleverly will also criticise Russia, saying that no country is immune from the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy and food prices, and he will commit to working with regional allies to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon.

"Iranian-supplied weapons threaten the entire region. Today Iran's nuclear programme is more advanced than ever before, and the regime has resorted to selling Russia the armed drones that are killing civilians in Ukraine," Cleverly will say at a security conference in Bahrain on Saturday.

"Britain is determined to work alongside our friends to counter the Iranian threat, interdict the smuggling of conventional arms, and prevent the regime from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability."

Talks to revive a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers have been at a stalemate since September, with the United States and its allies objecting to a crackdown on protestors and the sale of drones to Russia.

Iran denies wanting to acquire nuclear weapons and has said it shipped some drones to Russia before the February invasion of Ukraine but has not continued to supply them.

Cleverly this month summoned Iran's most senior diplomat in Britain over threats to journalists in light of protests in the Islamic Republic, while the the head of Britain's domestic spy agency said Iranian intelligence services had tried 10 times to kidnap or kill British or UK-based people this year.

After delivering his rebuke, Cleverly will then watch England's first World Cup match in Qatar against Iran on Monday, after attending the tournament's opening ceremony on Sunday.

The foreign ministry did not say if Cleverly would attend Wales' first match, against the United States, later on Monday.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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