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Islamic State's 'days are numbered' as occupying force, says Theresa May

Theresa May has said Islamic State's "days are numbered" as an occupying force as she assured Gulf leaders a post-Brexit Britain would not abandon the Middle East.

Attending a summit of the Gulf Co-operation Council in Bahrain, the Prime Minister also announced a new bid to tackle people trafficking, modern slavery, and online exploitation of children.

Mrs May told Gulf leaders the UK was taking "a leap forwards" with Brexit as a "passionate" advocate for free trade.

Referring to Islamic State as Daesh, the PM said: "Today, UK servicemen and women are putting their lives on the line at the heart of the international mission against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

"We are making progress. And as we are seeing with the current operations in Mosul, the days of Daesh as an occupying force are numbered."

The Prime Minister used the address to strongly back the Iran nuclear deal after intense criticism of the agreement by US President-elect Donald Trump.

On the final day of her trip to Bahrain, Mrs May told Gulf leaders: "We secured a deal which has neutralised the possibility of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons for over a decade.

"It has already seen Iran remove 13,000 centrifuges together with associated infrastructure and eliminate its stock of 20% enriched uranium.

"That was vitally important for regional security."

During his campaign for the White House, Mr Trump pledged to "dismantle" the deal which sees international sanctions lifted in return for Tehran limiting its nuclear programme.

The Gulf states have now committed to sign up to the WePROTECT Global Alliance which is aimed at taking action to end the online sexual exploitation of children.

They also agreed to enter into discussions on compliance with international conventions on forced labour as part of global efforts to combat modern slavery.

British experts at the UK Border Force will work with Gulf-based airlines to raise awareness of modern slavery among their staff and advise how to share any concerns they have with the police.

Mrs May told Gulf leaders she wanted a Britain that worked for all sections of society, and hoped boosting trade with the region would help British people who feel left behind by globalisation.

The Prime Minister is only the third Western leader, and first woman, to be invited to the summit, and was referred to as "her majesty" and "her highness" in the English translation of summit proceedings.

Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, said: "Theresa May talks about being the 'partner of choice' for reform in the Gulf, but we've already seen what that means in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia where the UK has been involved for years.

"British engagement has meant managing repression instead of ending it, shielding the country from UN probes into its violations, and being silent on the cases of rights campaigners like Nabeel Rajab.

"The UK has already helped secure a seat for Saudi Arabia at the UN Human Rights Council and sold weapons which the Saudis have used to bomb schools and hospitals in Yemen.

"The British Government has for years helped sustain repression and impunity in the Gulf under the guise of its partnerships with them, and that looks set to continue under Theresa May's new vision."

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