Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Protestors react to visit by Saudi Crown Prince

The Saudi-UK CEO Forum in London The Saudi-UK CEO Forum in London
Rosie Leonard | 10 March, 2018, 01:56

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.

The 32-year-old crown prince will succeed to the throne when his 82-year-old father, King Salman, dies.

Rob Williams, chief executive at War Child UK - a charity for children affected by conflict, said: 'Britain is complicit in the humanitarian crisis in Yemen through providing diplomatic support to Saudi Arabia, as well as selling our most high tech and deadly weapons to a coalition that the United Nations has verified as committing grave violations against children'.

The Crown Prince has been the driving force behind a modernisation programme, Vision 2030, in Saudi Arabia but the reforms have been dismissed as a "mirage" by human rights campaigners.

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.

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Iran-allied rebels in Yemen since 2015 in a war that has killed more than 10,000 people and driven the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of starvation.

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

Saudi Arabia is striving to achieve real female empowerment, especially in the workplace, going beyond recent changes that allowed women to drive cars for the first time, said the country's energy minister.

The Downing Street spokesperson insisted May had raised the issue of Yemen with the crown prince.

May defended herself when questioned by her political opponent, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, at the weekly "Prime Minister's Questions" session in parliament.

The three-day visit is also due to include lunch with May on Thursday at the prime minister's rural retreat, Chequers, and talks with Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson.

The Archbishop also "voiced his distress at the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and asked that all that is possible be done to alleviate the suffering of civilian populations and to seek an end to the conflict", Lambeth Palace said.

"They also discussed Iran, agreeing on the importance of working together to counter Iran's destabilizing regional activity, and Iraq, including the importance of supporting reconstruction efforts".

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a private meeting Thursday with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, where he made a "strong commitment" to interfaith dialogue, the archbishop's office said.

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