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Johnson: Trump’s Jerusalem move an ‘opportunity’

Boris Johnson has claimed Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could be a "moment of opportunity" for peace in the Middle East.

Following talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in London, the Foreign Secretary suggested the White House needed to back up its action with firm plans for achieving a breakthrough in peace talks.

"The world is ready waiting to see with great interest what the US is going to produce by way of a proposal on the Middle East peace process," Mr Johnson said.

"Clearly that decision feeds into that. Let's see where we get to. Funnily enough there is a moment of opportunity here.

"Clearly, Jerusalem now having been recognised by the US as the capital of Israel, one would expect some symmetrical movement in the other direction to get things moving."

Last month, Mr Trump broke with international convention by ordering arrangements to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Video:Trump: US 'officially recognises' Jerusalem as Israeli capital

The move sparked international condemnation, with the status of Jerusalem – also claimed by Palestinians as their capital – widely considered to be a matter for a lasting Middle East peace settlement.

At the time, Mr Johnson branded Mr Trump's move "not helpful".

The Foreign Secretary and Mr Tillerson also used their talks on Monday to discuss the recent movement of Turkish troops into the Kurdish-controlled Afrin area of northern Syria, with both men calling for "restraint" on all sides.

They also spoke about Mr Trump's vow to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, despite European nations – including Britain – reiterating their commitment to the agreement.

Mr Tillerson looked ahead to discussions, through a working group next week, on how to fix the "flaws" in the Iran deal via a "side agreement".

The Foreign Secretary said there was a "pretty wide measure of agreement on the European side about the need to look at what Iran is doing on the ballistic missile front and to work out what we can do collectively to constrain that activity".

He added: "We think we can do that together," but said it would be done in "parallel" to the Iran nuclear deal.

Rex Tillerson and Theresa May
Image:America's top diplomat also met with the PM

Following the US President's diplomatic spat with Prime Minister Theresa May in November – prompted by Mr Trump's promotion of far-right group Britain First on Twitter – Mr Tillerson insisted Americans "treasure" the country's relationship with the UK.

"We also view this as the special relationship. It has been and will be," he said.

"We spend a lot of time talking about the world's problems. Sometimes we forget about the importance of our own relationship.

"We treasure this relationship. I treasure Boris's relationship with me personally."

Prior to his talks with Mr Johnson, the US Secretary of State met Mrs May in Downing Street.

More from Boris Johnson

A Number 10 spokesperson said: "They discussed the continuing depth and breadth of the special relationship.

"They agreed on the importance of the international community coming together to counter Iran's destabilising regional activity, and the Prime Minister reiterated the UK's commitment to the Iran nuclear deal."

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