LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s grand welcome for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will start on Wednesday with a lunch with Queen Elizabeth, as the 2 international locations search to widen longstanding defence ties right into a far-reaching partnership.
Both sense a chance to broaden their present relationship: Britain is in search of buying and selling companions because it exits the European Union, and Saudi Arabia must persuade sceptical traders about its home reforms.
But as Prince Mohammed and Prime Minister Theresa May meet, demonstrators will protest each international locations’ roles in Yemen the place conflict has killed an estimated 10,000 individuals and the place eight.three million individuals rely on meals support and 400,000 kids have life-threatening ranges of malnutrition.
Inside May’s Downing Street places of work the 2 leaders will launch a “UK-Saudi Strategic Partnership Council” – an initiative to encourage Saudi Arabia’s financial reforms and foster extra cooperation on points akin to schooling and tradition, in addition to defence and safety.
“It will usher in a new era of bilateral relations, focused on a partnership that delivers wide-ranging benefits for both of us,” May’s spokesman advised reporters.
Britain is vying to land the stock market itemizing of state oil agency Saudi Aramco, however no resolution is predicted this week.
Later this month Prince Mohammed visits the United States, which additionally needs the profitable itemizing, though sources mentioned each international locations might miss out.
British officers had been privately delighted on the resolution by Prince Mohammed, 32, to decide on Britain as the main western vacation spot on his first overseas journey since changing into inheritor to the Saudi throne final 12 months.
The British government is eager to rework its historic defence relationship into two-way commerce and funding, eyeing each an expanded market in Saudi Arabia for service sector exports, and attracting Saudi money to finance home initiatives.
Business offers are attainable with British defence group BAE Systems and European weapons maker MBDA, and preliminary agreements may very well be concluded on fuel exploration, petrochemicals and different industries, based on British and Saudi sources.
The three-day go to will embrace two audiences with the British Royal household, a briefing with nationwide safety officers, and a prestigious go to to the prime minister’s nation residence.
May intends to make use of the personal dinner at Chequers, a 16th-century manor home 40 miles (60 km) northwest of London, to deliver up issues over the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, her spokesman mentioned.
A Saudi-led navy coalition is preventing the Houthi motion in Yemen, producing what the United Nation mentioned in January was the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
“You can expect them to discuss Yemen, and the prime minister to raise deep concerns at the humanitarian situation,” May’s spokesman mentioned. “She will also reiterate how seriously we take allegations of violations against international humanitarian law.”
Speaking to reporters in London on Monday, Saudi overseas minister Adel al-Jubeir mentioned his nation had didn’t successfully talk the explanations behind its involvement in Yemen, however that they’d not chosen to start out the conflict.
Protestors are planning to focus on the Saudi officers over Yemen and different human rights points, and Britain for licensing four.6 billion kilos of weapons gross sales to Saudi Arabia since 2015.
Buses have spent two days touring London with banners accusing Prince Mohammed of conflict crimes, with extra deliberate for Wednesday forward of the primary rally.
“It is vital that people show up to the protest tomorrow outside Downing Street to make clear that the UK government’s complicity in the war on Yemen is not supported by the public and that we demand a peaceful and humane foreign policy,” mentioned Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition.
Reporting by William James; Editing by Robin Pomeroy