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Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Saudi crown prince moves closer to United Kingdom fighter jet deal

Saudi crown prince moves closer to United Kingdom fighter jet deal

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Defense met here today with British Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson.

BAE Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said it was a positive step toward agreeing a contract with a valued partner.

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".

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Iran-allied rebels in Yemen since 2015 in a war that has killed more than 10,000 people and driven the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of starvation. It pits Saudi Arabia's Sunni Muslim monarchy against Yemen's Houthi rebel movement, which is backed by Shiite Muslim power Iran.

Prince Mohammed and the British Minister of Defense signed two memorandums and coordinated arrangements to strengthen defense capabilities and deepen cooperation and partnership through the transfer of technology, industrial partnership, training, research and development and technical consultation in accordance with Vision 2030.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said the United Kingdom had already licensed £4.6bn of arms for Saudi Arabia since the Yemen conflict began in 2015.

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 created to starve children and harm children, will have that inevitable effect".

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman leaves 10 Downing Street in London, March 7, 2018.

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

Human rights and arms control groups have mounted a publicity campaign and protests to stop the sale of British arms to Saudi Arabia, alleging that they are used in Yemen to kill innocent civilians.

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.

"We're all concerned about the appalling humanitarian situation in Yemen", May said, adding she meant to raise "concerns about human rights when I meet him".

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