Boris Johnson rejects calls to back inquiry over 'Saudi human rights breaches'

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Boris Johnson has rejected calls for him to back an international inquiry into allegations Saudi Arabia has breached humanitarian laws in the war in Yemen.

The Government has faced mounting criticism for continuing to sell billions of pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia despite claims the regime has breached international humanitarian law during its military campaign.

And two senior MPs have written to the Foreign Secretary urging him to use UN proceedings to push for an inquiry into the allegations.

Stephen Twigg, chairman of the International Development Committee, and Chris White, chairman of the Committees on Arms Export Controls' inquiry into the use of UK-manufactured arms in Yemen, urged Mr Johnson to "seize this opportunity" and support the establishment of a UN inquiry.

But speaking to Channel 4 News from New York, where he is at the UN, Mr Johnson rejected the pleas.

He said: "I don't happen to think that is the way forward.

"I'm not going to hide my concern about this, because I am concerned about it, but as things stand at the moment we don't think there are breaches of international humanitarian law.

"In fact I think it's a great mistake to try and draw some equivalence between what is happening in Yemen and what is happening in Syria. The two things are really very different."

He said the Government is "deeply concerned" at a recent airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition which killed at least 19 civilians, including children.

But Mr Johnson dismissed calls for a UN inquiry, insisting that instead the Government is "using a very, very wide variety of information sources about what is happening to acquaint ourselves with the details" about the allegations.