Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Saudi crown prince welcomed in United Kingdom with red carpet, protests

Saudi crown prince welcomed in United Kingdom with red carpet, protests

Britain is rolling out the red carpet for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will have lunch with the queen at Buckingham Palace and dine later with Prince Charles and Prince William.

On Thursday, the crown prince will head to Chequers for talks and a private dinner with the PM that will focus on foreign policy issues, including Yemen and Iran.

Despite some criticism from politicians on the left and anti-war campaigners to the visit, the overall message is clear - both Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom will stand to benefit from a closer relationship with each other rather than drifting apart. He will also travel on to meet President Donald J. Trump in Washington.

Numerous billboards welcoming the crown prince appeared along the motorways that connect Heathrow Airport to central London - suggesting that Mohammed may have been the intended audience.

Prime Minister Theresa May defended Britain's links to defence and security ally Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Britain's Queen Elizabeth for lunch at the start of a high profile visit to London.

May should "make clear Britain's strong opposition to widespread human and civil rights abuses in Saudi Arabia", Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said.

Mr Corbyn said a "humanitarian disaster" was taking place in Yemen as a result of the bombing campaign and a Saudi blockade of Yemeni ports.

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The trip is the Crown Prince's first foreign tour as heir to the Saudi throne and is seen as his chance to project the kingdom as a "reforming youthful society determined to take up its status as a major G20 economic power".

Defense remains a vital partnership between the two countries as Britain is Saudi Arabia's second-biggest supplier of defense equipment and London-based based BAE Systems has been waiting for a follow-on order for the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet after the initial Al-Yamamah sale of 72 of the warplanes in 2006. She made no mention of the 200 elites he ordered detained in the Ritz Carlton hotel in a purported corruption crackdown.

Asked whether Bin Salman should have been invited to the U.K., May said the two countries had a historic relationship and one which had helped to potentially save hundreds of British lives - presumably because of anti-terrorism intelligence shared between the countries. Photographs posted online showed London taxis displaying advertising graphics welcoming Prince Mohammed, and electronic billboards promoted pro-Saudi messages with the hashtag #anewsaudiarabia. Picture: Presidency Press Service/Pool Photo via AP.

"The meeting agreed a landmark ambition for around £65 billion ($90.3 billion) of mutual trade and investment opportunities over the coming years, including direct investment in the United Kingdom and new Saudi public procurement with United Kingdom companies", a Downing Street spokesperson said in a press release.

"The arms being pushed by Downing Street this week could be used in atrocities for years to come".

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar last June, suspending air and shipping routes with the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is home to the region's biggest U.S. military base.

The crown prince has shaken up his deeply conservative country since he became heir apparent to King Salman previous year.

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