Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

UK looking to boost security co-operation with Saudi Arabia, says minister

The statement came after Britain said it would resume issuing Saudi arms licences

Ben Wallace, the British defence secretary, arrives at 10 Downing Street in London. Bloomberg
Ben Wallace, the British defence secretary, arrives at 10 Downing Street in London. Bloomberg

The UK is looking to boost security relations and arms exports with Saudi Arabia, British Defence Minister Ben Wallace has said.

He told the kingdom’s deputy defence minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, that he appreciated the role Saudi Arabia played in confronting threats to stability in the region and protecting sea lanes, the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.

The call came as the UK said it can again begin to export new arms to the kingdom after complying with a court order governing the decision-making process in the sale of weapons.

The Court of Appeal last year ruled that the UK broke the law in its decision-making processes when selling arms to Saudi Arabia.

While the order did not prevent the export of arms under existing licences, the government did not grant new licences for the UK’s largest purchaser of weapons.

UK Trade Minister Liz Truss said the government re-took those decisions on a "correct legal basis", meaning it could resume issuing licences.

"The government will now begin the process of clearing the backlog of licence applications for Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that has built up since 20 June last year," she said.

Updated: July 8, 2020 10:57 PM

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