Britain, Saudi Arabia move closer to multibillion-dollar arms deal after visit

Britain, Saudi Arabia move closer to multibillion-dollar arms deal after visit

Saudi Arabia has signed a preliminary deal to buy 48 Typhoon fighter jets from the UK.

The news comes after the country's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Downing Street this week for a three-day tour.

It was signed by the crown prince and the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, after a meeting this morning, the last day of the trip.

The Crown Prince also inspected a number of BAE Systems' products and the contribution of Saudi companies working in the military field and he was briefed on the company's future plans to further transfer and localize technology, train and employ Saudi citizens. Will British politicians confront MBS about Saudi Arabia's human-rights record and role in Yemen?

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"If agreed, this shameful deal will be celebrated in the palaces of Riyadh and by the arms companies who will profit from it, but it will mean even greater destruction for the people of Yemen", said Mr Smith.

Saudi Arabia is expected to confirm it will buy 48 Typhoon fighter jets from the United Kingdom, according to Sky (Frankfurt: 893517 - news) sources.

BAE confirmed the news in a statement, saying: "This is a positive step towards agreeing a contract for our valued partner".

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 a year ago.

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Demonstrators call attention to Saudi Arabia's poor human-rights record both at home and overseas.

Saudi Arabia is the main player in a coalition supporting the Yemeni government against the Houthis in a war which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.

Before his visit, the 32-year-old royal said both countries would be "much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia".

Protests have followed the crown prince, also called MBS, as he travels the UK.

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The thorny topic was due to be discussed at a private dinner inside May's country residence on Thursday night, but was tempered with gifts: May's office said she presented Prince Mohammed with a family tree showing the descent of the Al Saud dynasty.

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