United Kingdom politicians brand Saudi arms deal a 'national disgrace'

United Kingdom politicians brand Saudi arms deal a 'national disgrace'

Upon the arrival of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the military base, Typhoon fighter jets performed a fly-past to welcome him along with a guard of honor while the national anthems were played.

The two countries agreed to finalize talks on a multibillion-pound order for 48 Typhoon aircraft, the fighter plane's maker BAE Systems said.

"We are committed to supporting the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] as it modernises the Saudi Armed Forces and develops key industrial capabilities critical to the delivery of Vision 2030", the company said in a short statement.

The preliminary deal comes on the final day of a three-day official visit by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Shares in BAE were up 2.3% at 602.80 pence in afternoon trade.

In a fiery exchange with opposition lawmakers in parliament on Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May defended the country's military links to Saudi Arabia, saying Saudi intelligence sharing has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of British lives.

But she has also raised concerns about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with Prince Mohammed during his visit to the UK.

May's government has remained defiant in the face of growing pressure to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia, defending the sales amid evidence of war crimes and civilian deaths in Yemen.

Germany earlier this year halted arms sales to the parties involved in the Yemen conflict, prompting Saudi Arabia to say it would find weapons elsewhere.

The crown prince, who is heir to his 82-year-old father, King Salman, said there were "huge opportunities" to boost trade between the two countries and they had to work together to deal with "failed states. terrorist and extremist organisations" in the Middle East.

BAE, Europe's biggest defence contractor, has long awaited a major Saudi order for Typhoons, and slowed production in 2016 to ensure it would remain competitive.

The deal will be welcomed at Warton, Lancashire, where the swing-role combat aircraft are built by BAE Systems.

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