Spain and Saudi Arabia sign $2.2bn deal for warships
Six agreements reached on final stop of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's foreign tour
Spain and Saudi Arabia signed a framework agreement to sell warships to the kingdom as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman wrapped a nearly month-long foreign tour to boost economic and defence ties.
The Saudi crown prince and Spain's defence minister signed an "executive summary to facilitate the necessary procedures" for the Saudi defence ministry to sign a contract with Spanish state-owned shipbuilder Navantia for the supply of warships, a Saudi government statement said late on Thursday.
It said another agreement was signed between state-owned Saudi Arabian Military Industries Company and Navantia, but did not provide details.
A Spanish defence ministry source told Reuters that under the deal, Navantia would sell five small warships, Spain's army would train Saudi military personnel and contractors would build a naval construction centre in the kingdom.
The two sides have been negotiating the warship deal since 2015, and the final contract between the Saudi defence ministry and Navantia would take longer to complete, the source said.
According to the independent global security database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Spain is the fourth-biggest exporter of military equipment and weapons to Saudi Arabia after the US, Britain and France.
Prince Mohammed, who serves as defence minister and controls economic and energy policy, arrived in Spain on Wednesday after nearly three weeks in the United States and three-day visit to France. He was welcomed by Spain's King Felipe VI at the Zarzuela palace on the outskirts of Madrid and also met Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Defence Minister Maria Dolores de Cospedal.
During his visit Saudi Arabia and Spain signed six agreements in the areas of defence, air transport, culture, technology and labour and social development, the Saudi government's Centre for International Communication said.
The crown prince has also visited Egypt and Britain this year - his first foreign trips since being made heir to the Saudi throne last June.
Updated: April 13, 2018 04:36 PM