UK-Saudi relations


In his first visit to Britain as powerful Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Mohammad bin Salman held details meetings with Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Theresa May, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Webby and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson and other highly influential figures during his three-day tour starting Wednesday. Apart from bilateral and regional issues, the Yemen conflict was dominant in talks. Britain fully agrees to Saudi point of issue on this imbroglio which is obviously very dangerous for the peace and stability of whole region. Foreign Secretary Boris Johns categorically stated that the launching of Iranian missiles at Saudi Arabia from Yemen is “unacceptable” and Tehran’s role in the country should be constrained. Britain understood Saudi Arabia’s need to defend itself and we understand his Royal Highnesses desire to protect his country. So for Britain, it’s unacceptable that Iranian missiles are being used against Saudi Arabia and we wish to see an end to that. Saudi Arabia, which is leading an Arab military coalition in Yemen in support of government forces against Iran-backed rebels, has been targeted by missiles fired across the border. Many are shorter range, hitting areas near the border, but the Houthis have increasingly launched longer range ballistic missiles, including several targeting Riyadh that were shot down.
While highlighting the UK’s policy on the issue, Boris Johnson said Britain understands the legitimate government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was removed and there’s a UN resolution calling for him to be restored and that the Arab coalition is seeking to achieve that. But he added that it was going to be difficult to get an exclusively military solution and that there needs to be political progress. Johnson described the situation in Syria as a “major tragedy” and said he agreed with Saudi Arabia on the need to relaunch negotiations in Geneva to start a political process. UN experts in January reported they had “identified missile remnants” and other military equipment brought into Yemen of Iranian origin that violated an arms embargo. Britain drafted a UN Security Council resolution last month on renewing an arms embargo on Yemen that would have put pressure on Iran over the supply of missiles to the Houthis. The council eventually adopted a resolution that failed to condemn Tehran after Russia vetoed the British version, drawing an angry reaction from the US and London.
PM May and the Saudi crown prince agreed on the importance of working together to counter Iran’s destabilising regional activity. On Yemen, London and Riyadh agreed on the importance of full and unfettered humanitarian and commercial access, including ports access. PM May agreed with Mohammed Bin Salman that a political solution is only way to end the conflict and humanitarian suffering in Yemen. Later on Wednesday, the Saudi Arabian and British foreign ministers detailed the agreement at a joint press conference. Both FMs agreed to monitor the navigation routes in preparation of the reopening of the ports in Yemen.
UK has called for an international meeting to discuss with Saudi Arabia a political solution in Yemen as the world understood Saudi Arabia’s right to protect its borders. According to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia supported the transitional process and political dialogue in Yemen and the war in the country was imposed on Saudi Arabia, but that the Kingdom will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Yemen after the war’s conclusion. Riyadh and London agreed on the necessity to deter Iran and stop its support terrorism, while Johnson said Iran was playing a disruptive and dangerous role in Yemen and destabilizing the region.
UK has had a longstanding and historic relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Theresa May pledges to continue it. She also praised Prince Mohammad saying that under the crown Prince, Saudi Arabia is reforming, is changing, is giving more rights to women and that the UK will stand alongside Saudi Arabia to deliver on his vision. On trade side, Britain and Saudi Arabia set out an ambition to build £65 billion ($90.29 billion) of trade and investment ties in coming years and the prime minister’s office termed the agreement a vote of confidence in the British economy ahead of Brexit. The meeting agreed a landmark ambition for around 65 billion pounds of mutual trade and investment opportunities over the coming years, including direct investment in the UK and new Saudi public procurement with UK companies. This is a significant boost for UK prosperity and a clear demonstration of the strong international confidence in our economy as we prepare to leave the European Union. Adel Al-Jubeir says that there were great opportunities for cooperation with the UK to achieve the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia. A UK-Saudi “Strategic Partnership Council” has been launched which is 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.