British Prime Minister Theresa May defended Britain’s links to security ally Saudi Arabia on Wednesday as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Queen Elizabeth II for lunch on a high-profile visit that drew protests over Riyadh’s human rights record.
According to reports, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and the U.K.’s prime minister has launched an economic and investment partnership worth billions of dollars on Wednesday, amid human rights protests against Saudi Arabia in London and political pressure in parliament.
Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is in the U.K. for a three-day state visit. On the first day of the trip, he dined with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and met Prime Minister Theresa May and her ministers in Downing Street.
There, the prime minister and Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he is known, hosted the inaugural meeting of the “U.K.-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council,” a trade and investment body that hopes to see multi-billion deals between the two kingdoms.
“The meeting agreed a landmark ambition for around $90.3 billion of mutual trade and investment opportunities over the coming years, including direct investment in the U.K. and new Saudi public procurement with U.K. companies,” a Downing Street spokesperson said in a press release.
Hundreds of people joined the protest outside Downing Street in central London calling for an end to Saudi Arabia’s bombing on Yemen and Britain’s complicity in it. The protest was organised by the Stop the War Coalition, War on Want, Global Justice Now and the Arab Organisation for Human Rights in UK.
According to reports, over 5,000 civilians have died in Yemen’s civil war, most of them killed in airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition. A Saudi blockade on Yemen has also caused famine and a widespread cholera epidemic.
One protester told Socialist Worker, “The blockade and bombing in Yemen is the biggest reason why people are dying in the country. People can’t even leave their homes in some places. And it’s caused the biggest cholera epidemic in the world.”