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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Saudi crown prince to visit Spain next week

Prince Mohammed will meet King Felipe VI after two days in France

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman poses for a photograph during his visit to Google headquarters in Silicon Valley on April 6, 2018. Bandar Algaloud / Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court  via Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman poses for a photograph during his visit to Google headquarters in Silicon Valley on April 6, 2018. Bandar Algaloud / Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court via Reuters

Saudi Arabia's crown prince will meet the Spanish king in Madrid on Thursday, the royal palace said, as he continues his global diplomatic charm offensive in a bid to project a new liberal image of his conservative kingdom.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman's trip to Spain will come hot on the heels of a two-day official visit to France and after a tour lasting several weeks of the United States, Britain and Egypt.

According to Spain's El Pais daily, Prince Mohammed will sign a contract to buy five warships from Spain for $2.4 billion (Dh8.8bn), as well as other bilateral agreements.

Spain and Saudi Arabia's royal families are very close due to King Felipe VI's father Juan Carlos, who was a close friend of the kingdom's late King Fahd, who reigned from 1982 to 2005, and is close to his brother King Salman.

Juan Carlos was credited with playing a decisive role in 2011 in helping a Spanish consortium win a contract worth $8.2bn to build a high-speed railway linking the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

According to El Pais, Juan Carlos spent "a few days of rest" in Saudi Arabia just before Easter.

Felipe VI, meanwhile, paid an official visit there in January 2017.

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