Britain and Saudi to finalise Typhoon order talks

Marie Harrington
March 11, 2018

"The UK Government has signed a Memorandum of Intent with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to aim to finalise discussions for the purchase of 48 Typhoon Aircraft", BAE Systems said in a brief statement to the London Stock Exchange.

BAE, Europe's biggest defence contractor, has long awaited a major order for Typhoons from Saudi Arabia, and slowed production of the jet in 2016 to ensure it would remain competitive.

Britain and Saudi Arabia have set themselves a 65 billion pound trade and investment target for the coming years, with London looking for new post-Brexit markets for its services sector, and Prince Mohammad seeking to convince wary investors his country is a tolerant and modernizing place.

Britain credits Saudi intelligence sharing with saving British lives and has licensed billions of pounds of weapons and ammunition sales to Saudi Arabia.

At the end of his visit to London, Prince Mohammed had sent cable of gratitude to each of Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II to thank them for their warm reception.

It was not immediately clear whether any of those contracts included arms sales, with the spokesman simply adding that the signed deals included "direct Saudi investment in the United Kingdom and new Saudi public procurement with United Kingdom companies".

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May defended the Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen suggesting "their involvement ... came at the request of the legitimate government of Yemen, it is backed by the United Nations Security Council and as such we support it", she said.

Mohammed bin Salman's visit marked by protests against devastating war in Yemen and blockade of Qatar.

But no sooner than he landed, the 32-year-old was met by hundreds of protesters demanding an end to the violence in Yemen and an immediate halt to weapons sales from the United Kingdom to Riyadh.

Prince Mohammed's itinerary was largely private, including meetings with bankers, executives and lawmakers, and he did not speak publicly at any point during the trip.

Yemeni doctors treat a child injured by a Saudi airstrike on the northern Yemeni city of Sa'ada on March 7, 2018.

A Saudi-led military coalition has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015, with rights groups accusing both sides of carrying out possible war crimes.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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