Saudi Arabia has helped save British lives — PM


Saudi Gazette report

— Prime Minister Theresa May praised Britain’s links to ally Saudi Arabia in parliament on Wednesday, saying cooperation had helped save the lives of hundreds of people.

“The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one, and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country,” May said in response to a question from opposition Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, met Queen Elizabeth for lunch at the start of a high profile visit to London.

Wednesday’s first official engagement was a trip to Buckingham Palace for talks and a meal with the British monarch — a rare honor usually reserved for heads of state.

The Saudi delegation later met May and senior ministers inside Downing Street offices to launch a UK-Saudi “Strategic Partnership Council” — an initiative to encourage Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms and foster cooperation on issues such as education and culture.

Business deals and initial agreements could be concluded on gas exploration, petrochemicals and other industries, according to British and Saudi sources.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson led the welcoming party for Crown Prince Muhammad on his arrival late on Tuesday.

London has rolled out red carpet to welcome the Crown Prince.

Photographs posted online showed London taxis displaying advertising graphics welcoming Crown Prince Muhammad, and electronic billboards promoted pro-Saudi messages with the hashtag #anewsaudiarabia.

Saudi Ambassador to Britain Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf said his country could not modernize its economy without help.

“We will need to tap the expertise of others. So, as we transition away from our historic reliance on oil, enormous commercial avenues will open up for overseas companies to work with, and invest in, Saudi Arabia,” he wrote in the Financial Times.

The three-day visit will include a second Royal audience — dinner with the Prince Charles and Prince William — a briefing with national security officials, and a prestigious visit on Thursday to the prime minister’s country residence at Chequers, a 16th-century manor house 40 miles (60 km) northwest of London.

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.

The Crown Prince wants to show that “shock” reforms have made his country a better place to invest and a more tolerant society. — With agencies