UK, Saudi Arabia sign deals worth more than $2 billion

A visitor stands before an acrylic image by artist Mohammed Siam renowned for his cubist-style paintings and known as “the Picasso of Saudi Arabia”
Credit David Parry  PA Wire

Britain agreed on Friday to finalize talks with Saudi Arabia on a multi-billion pound order for 48 Typhoon aircraft, the fighter plane's maker BAE Systems said.

"We have taken a vital step towards finalising another order for Typhoon jets that will increase security in the Middle East and boost British industry and jobs in our unrivalled aerospace sector", he said.

Late previous year, however, BAE said it planned to axe 2,000 jobs, and had partky blamed weaker demand for Hawk and Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.

Shares in BAE were trading up 2.4 percent at 603 pence after the signing of the memorandum was announced.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to London will turn to defense and security on Friday as he meets British defense minister Gavin Williamson, touching on the most contentious element of his trip: arms sales.

Asked by opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn whether she would condemn Saudi Arabia's "shocking abuse of human rights", Prime Minister Theresa May defended Britain's close ties with the authoritarian kingdom.

There was also an estimated £65bn of additional trade agreed for the coming years as part of the Crown Prince's Vision 2030 economic plan.

Bunkall said that the memorandum of intent still required the details to be ironed out before a final contract is signed, but he added: "You wouldn't expect things to go backwards now though".

The news comes after Qatar inked a deal late past year to buy 24 Typhoon jets for some $8.0 billion.

Before his visit, the 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed had emphasised the importance of the relationship between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia regarding security.

"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 the House of Commons. It pits Saudi Arabia's Sunni Muslim monarchy against Yemen's Houthi rebel movement, which is backed by Shiite Muslim power Iran.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced swing-role combat aircraft available and there are nearly 500 in service across Europe.



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