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British PM defends Saudi ties during Crown Prince visit

10 March 2018

Lambeth PalaceThe Crown Prince has faced significant protests over Saudi Arabia's involvement in the conflict in Yemen.

However the visit comes amid protests over British arms sales to the Saudi government that have been used against civilians, including children, in the war in Yemen.

"While demonstrators have driven vans through London's streets with posters saying "The UK should not welcome war criminal Mohammad Bin Salman", social media users posted images online of other vehicles carrying messages such as: "#Welcome Saudi Crown Prince".

The Downing Street meeting saw the two leaders agree to a "landmark ambition" for about £65bn ($90bn) in investment, including new Saudi investment in the United Kingdom, in what officials called a "significant boost for United Kingdom prosperity".

In a fiery exchange with opposition lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday, May defended Britain's links to Saudi Arabia.

British officials were privately delighted at the decision by Prince Mohammed, 32, to choose Britain as the major Western destination on his first foreign trip since becoming heir to the Saudi throne previous year.

"The overwhelming majority of people in the not share Theresa May's political and military support for the Saudi regime", Andrew Smith of Campaign Against the Arms Trade said according to The Independent.

The war has reached an effective stalemate. He had lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday and is scheduled to dine later with Prince Charles and Prince William.

Palestinian killed in West Bank clashes with Israeli forces
Mohammed al-Jabari, 24, was shot during the clashes and later died in hospital, the ministry said. Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers are common after Friday Muslim prayers.

"We are thrilled to be part of this historical milestone as we bring Ford Driving Skills for Life for Her to Saudi Arabia, to help young female drivers feel safe and confident behind the wheel for the first time, and we look forward to welcoming a new generation of women to the driver's seat".

They say the country is involved in widespread human rights abuses and fuels terror across the world. Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom said his country cannot modernize its economy without support from the West.

They gathered as Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held the first of two meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers. Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry also wrote in The Guardian that the UK's extravagant reception for the Saudi prince was "shameless".

"What Jeremy is talking about is the direct advice that is being given in the operations rooms by British military personnel about aerial targeting..."

The demonstration was organised by Avaaz, a civic platform that among other causes promotes human rights. "Now, there is no despotic government anywhere in the world that this government will not deal with".

"He's not welcome here and they shouldn't be rolling out the red carpet to people like him while people of Yemen suffer a brutal siege", said Mayer Wakefield, of the Stop the War Coalition which organised the protest. I don't call reform.

In the meantime, the crown prince has been given sweeping powers and has launched an ambitious program, Vision 2030, to modernize the country.

United Nations sources record over 14,000 civilian casualties since the beginning of the Saudi coalition's intervention in Yemen from 2015 onwards. "Yemen needs to be protected from the Houthis", said the activist, who is originally from Taiz.

British PM defends Saudi ties during Crown Prince visit