Saudi Crown Prince signs off United Kingdom visit with push for fighter deal

Saudi Crown Prince signs off United Kingdom visit with push for fighter deal

Nevertheless, Friday's meeting is expected to include talks on the sale of up to 48 Typhoon fighter jets made by British firm BAE Systems - a multi-billion pound deal which 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.

The deal could save hundreds of jobs at Wharton in Lancashire, where the jets are built by BAe Systems.

Then they signed two memoranda and arrangements for strengthening defense capabilities and deepening cooperation and partnership through the transfering and localization of technology, industrial partnership, training, research and development and technical consultation in line with the Kingdom Vision 2030.

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

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.

The visit also brought agreement on an estimated £65bn worth of additional trade in the coming years as part of the Crown Prince's Vision 2030 economic plan. It pits Saudi Arabia's Sunni Muslim monarchy against Yemen's Houthi rebel movement, which is backed by Shiite Muslim power Iran.

He added: "If agreed, this shameful deal will be celebrated in the palaces of Riyadh and by the arms companies who will profit from it, but it will mean even greater destruction for the people of Yemen".

Before his visit, the 32-year-old Crown Prince talked about the importance of security ties between between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

Regarding Mrs May's meeting, a Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister raised our deep concerns at the humanitarian situation in Yemen".

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most important combat aircraft in BAE Systems' portfolio, accounting for almost a third of the unit's sales in 2016.

Some 5,000 people are employed by BAE Systems on the Typhoon programme, covering production and support.