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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Saudi Crown Prince to talk defence and security on last day of UK visit

Prince Mohammed bin Salman is due to meet the defence secretary Gavin Williamson as the countries seek to deepen their trading links

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street / Getty
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with British Prime Minister Theresa May on the steps of Number 10 Downing Street / Getty

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was due to discuss defence and security issues on the last day of his visit to London on Friday.

He was due to meet with Gavin Williamson, the British defence secretary, during a three-day trip that has seen the UK government defend its military ties with Saudi Arabia.

The two countries have set a £65 billion trade and investment target for the coming years, broadening a trading relationship built on defence and security.

Prime Minister Theresa May said this week that anti-terrorism cooperation between the two countries have saved lives, but the visit has attracted protests from the political opposition and campaigners because of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

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Before the visit, the Crown Prince said that people from both countries would be “much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia”.

The visit comes after British defence company BAE systems announced in October that it was cutting nearly 2,000 jobs following a failure to secure a major new deal with Saudi Arabia for its Eurofighter Typhoon jet.

The company delivered the last of 72-plane order to Saudi Arabia in 2017 and the aircraft is being used by the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen. Attempts to secure a follow-up deal have, however, proved elusive.

Discussions on future trade between the two countries were held at a business conference in London on Thursday. British companies such as BAE Systems and Jaguar Land Rover are already major players in the Saudi market.

Saudi Arabia has made it clear that it wants international input into its Vision 2030 programme in order to make it a success.