Saudi Crown Prince: Turkey part of 'triangle of evil'

Rosalie Gross
March 10, 2018

The Saudi-UK CEO Forum kicked off in London on Thursday in conjunction with a visit paid to Britain by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

May later met Prince Mohammed at her Downing Street office, extending a warm diplomatic welcome to the conservative kingdom's heir apparent and agreeing a 65 billion pound ($90.29 billion) trade and investment target.

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.

Saudi women have had a momentous year as the young, reform-minded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman lifted a number of key restrictions on their rights.

The British government is keen to develop a two-way trade and investment relationship, eyeing both an expanded market in Saudi Arabia for service sector exports, and attracting Saudi cash to finance domestic projects.

Opposition politicians and rights groups called on British Prime Minister Theresa May to use the trip to challenge the kingdom's record on human rights.

The signing of a new and comprehensive UK-Saudi "Strategic Partnership Council" - an initiative to encourage Saudi Arabia's economic reforms and foster cooperation on issues such as education and culture, as well as defence and security.

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Yemen has been torn apart since March 2015 when Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on the country to reinstall its former Riyadh-allied government.

That criticism over the Yemen war and noisy demonstrations have contrasted with the warm welcome from the British government given the crown prince.

Earlier, junior foreign minister Alistair Burt responded to an emergency question in parliament about the visit by defending Britain's arms deals with Saudi, saying the regulations were "as strict as anywhere in the world".

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. "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.

'The Prime Minister raised our deep concerns at the humanitarian situation in Yemen. "The prime minister and crown prince agreed on the importance of full and unfettered humanitarian and commercial access, including through the ports, and that a political solution was ultimately the only way to end the conflict and humanitarian suffering in Yemen".

He will hold talks with May and have lunch with the Queen and dinner with Prince Charles and Prince William.

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