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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Saudi Arabia pens deal with the UK over defence cooperation

Agreement will improve intelligence and counter-terrorism capabilities of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon after signing agreements in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon after signing agreements in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Press Agency/Handout via REUTERS

The UK has signed a military and security cooperation deal with Saudi Arabia, a major buyer of British arms and a partner in attempts to defeat ISIL.

Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, the minister of defence, met with his British counterpart Michael Fallon to discuss military cooperation, according to state news agency Wam.

Mr Fallon said the agreement would help Saudi Arabia better protect her national security, including through counter-terrorism, intelligence and training. “This Agreement further cements the UK’s long-standing relationship with our key Gulf partner,” he said.

The UK’s prime minister, Theresa May, said in December last year that Britain would invest more than £3 billion in defence in the Gulf region as the country prepared to leave the European Union.

The relationship with Saudi Arabia has been controversial with one campaigning group losing a court battle in July to halt arms exports because of concern over the civilian death toll in Yemen.

Gulf states say Iran is trying to expand its influence in Arab countries, including Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has been engaged since 2015 fighting Iran-backed fighters.