Britain to finalize Typhoon plane order talks with Saudi

Ivan Schwartz
March 10, 2018

Britain signed a multi-billion-pound preliminary order from Saudi Arabia for 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, military equipment maker BAE Systems said on Friday.

The two parties discussed as well the promising opportunities in accordance with the Saudi Vision 2030, the developments in the Middle East and the world, and the efforts to combat terrorism. The deal has been under discussion for years but has proven tough to seal.

BAE Chief Executive Charles Woodburn said it was a positive step toward agreeing a contract with a valued partner.

Sky News Defence Correspondent Alistair Bunkall said the deal is expected to be announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and the Crown Prince later this afternoon.

At the start of the trip, the countries set themselves a 65 billion pound ($90 billion) trade and investment target for the coming years, with London looking for new post-Brexit markets for its services sector, and Prince Mohammed seeking to convince wary investors his country is a tolerant and modernising place.

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A spokesperson said: "The Prime Minister raised our deep concerns at the humanitarian situation in Yemen". Bin Salman was welcomed at London airport by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson late on Tuesday.

Any order for UK-built warplanes would spark protests from anti-war campaigners, who mounted demonstrations during the Crown Prince's visit over Saudi's military intervention in Yemen.

Mrs May defended the UK's ties with Saudi Arabia earlier this week, saying all arms sales are strictly regulated.

"The fact that we have the head of state of a government that has been operating such a blockade - Saudi Arabia - recently invited to Buckingham Palace and Downing Street while the military.is orchestrating what will potentially become the worst starvation in the last 50 years, I think speaks volumes to another aspect of the problem that I want to highlight - the growing sense of impunity surrounding these crimes against children".

It said Welby expressed concern about the limits placed on Christian worship in Saudi Arabia, and expressed "distress" at suffering in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Iran-backed rebels.

An image of the heir-apparent striding up Downing Street towards May's office was lauded by Saudis on social media as emblematic of his youth, confidence, determination and enthusiasm.

Other reports by GizPress

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