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9 Mar 2018

News In Pictures: Saudi Arabia ‘to sign UK defence deal’ after Crown Prince’s visit

Saudi Arabia is reportedly expected to sign a defence deal with the UK following the Crown Prince’s visit.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman even met the Queen on HIS whistle stop tour of London (Picture: PA)
The deal involves the sale of 48 British Typhoon fighter jets, Sky News claims. It comes after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the Government of ‘colluding’ in war crimes by Saudi forces engaged in Yemen’s bitter civil war.

The Labour leader said British military personnel were ‘directing’ Saudi military operations responsible for large-scale civilian casualties.

Downing Street said Mrs May brought up the issues of Yemen and human rights in talks with the Crown Prince on Wednesday. A spokeswoman said the Prime Minister raised ‘our deep concerns at the humanitarian situation in Yemen’ and said the pair agreed that a ‘political solution was ultimately the only way to end the conflict’.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince meets Theresa May outside Downing Street
A charity chief also warned about Saudi Arabia targeting children in Yemen with a ‘growing sense of impunity’. Killing and subjecting minors to appalling violence is becoming ‘normalised’ in conflict zones around the world, Save the Children chief executive Kevin Watkins warned.

He spoke on the final day of a three-day official visit and charm offensive by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – which included talks with Prime Minister Theresa May, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and an audience with the Queen.

The Gulf state is an important defence partner for the UK, but the sale of arms to the country is highly controversial, especially since its intervention in Yemen. The Crown Prince held talks with Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson today.

Mr Watkins criticised the welcome given to the crown prince, saying that in Yemen the Saudis were ‘orchestrating what will potentially become the worst famine in the last 50 years’.
He even met the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Lambeth Palace (Picture: PA)
Speaking in London at the launch of The War On Children, a report into crimes against children in warzones, Mr Watkins said: ‘It has become acceptable to operate humanitarian blockades which, if not explicitly designed to starve children and harm children, will have that inevitable consequence.’

‘The fact that we have the head of state of a government that has been operating such a blockade – Saudi Arabia – recently invited to Buckingham Palace and Downing Street while the military … is orchestrating what will potentially become the worst famine in the last 50 years, I think speaks volumes to another aspect of the problem that I want to highlight – the growing sense of impunity surrounding these crimes against children.

‘The fact that you can rape, murder, kidnap, bomb schools, bomb clinics with no consequence, speaks I think to the heart of the deeper challenge that we are addressing today.’

Yemen, which borders southern Saudi Arabia, has been embroiled in a bloody civil war since 2014 when rebels took over the capital city of Sanaa. Saudi Arabia is the main player in a coalition supporting the Yemeni government against the Houthis in a war which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

Prince Salman, 32, is the son of the 82-year-old Saudi king and his visit comes at a time when he is taking steps to modernise the ultra-conservative Arab state. Downing Street said trade deals worth £65 billion had been agreed during the visit, which were ‘important both for our economy and the economy of Saudi Arabia’.

Source: MetroUK

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