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David Cameron recently visited Saudi Arabia for the first time as Prime Minister to strengthen the UK-Saudi partnership. Saudi Arabia is UK’s largest Middle Eastern partner with an annual trade value of £15 per year according to BBC News. Mr. Cameron met King Abdullah and Crown Prince Nayef after arriving in Riyadh last week. Downing Street reported:
Building a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia is vital to advancing the United Kingdom’s priorities in the region: increasing exports and investment; boosting energy security and creating jobs; co-operating on security, counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism; and promoting stability through political reform and human rights.
Currently, the kingdom is the second largest purchaser of UK arms. It has been rumored that the UK is planning on going forward with an order of 72 Eurofighter Typhoon and 48 Eurofighter jets. However, until now, nothing is confirmed. Even though the UK sees Saudi Arabia as a major sale market of military equipment, the British Prime Minister did not visit the Saudi King just to discuss business, it has been reported that one of the main goals of his visit was to establish a personal relationship with the King.
According to CNN News, the two leaders are most likely to discuss security, world economy, and Middle Eastern issues, such as the current protests occurring in the region. Moreover, Mr. Cameron also met with the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud Al Faisal and talked about this year’s UN General Assembly; both leaders agreed to strengthen the co-operation between their countries.
BBC News reported that, in an interview with the Al Arabiya news, the Prime Minister said:
The UK is prepared to table a new resolution at the UN Security Council over the appalling bloodshed carried out by the Syrian regime. The whole Arab League has to come together; others need to listen to that and act on that at the UN. Britain stands ready to do that.
Mehdi Hasan, the senior politics editor at the New Statesman magazine, believes that Britain has no “moral authority” to advocate democracy to Syria and Iran, he told RT News, “It’s a bit rich for the British prime minister to stand in Saudi Arabia and condemn the dictator in Syria without looking around him – all the dictators were surrounding him in Riyadh.”
The UK and Saudi Arabia have always been close allies, with more than 150 business joint ventures between the two countries. Currently, around 30,000 Britons live and work in the kingdom.
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