Saudi minister sees deals with UK during crown prince's visit

Reuters , Monday 5 Mar 2018

Saudi Arabia expects to sign agreements with Britain covering a range of issues during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to London this week, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Monday.

Britain's planned exit from the European Union did not reduce its attractiveness as an investment destination, the minister told reporters, and he said he expected the crown prince's visit to take bilateral relations to a higher level.

"Our relationship is so strong that the talks will be broad and wide ranging. There will be agreements and memorandums of understanding signed in a number of areas involving a broad range of issues," he said during a media briefing at the Saudi embassy.

Al-Jubeir provided no further details on the agreements nor on the precise agenda for the crown prince's visit. He declined to comment on any progress in plans to list giant oil firm Saudi Aramco and whether that might happen in London or New York.

Asked whether Britain's departure from the EU, scheduled for March 2019, would affect Riyadh's view of how attractive Britain is as an investment destination, al-Jubeir said: "We don't think so. We think that Britain is one of the great powers.

"British ingenuity and British technology and British know-how is not going to change whether you're part of the EU or not part of the EU."

Asked about potential protests during the visit over issues such as the conflict in Yemen, British arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the kingdom's human rights record, al-Jubeir said his country should not be the target of demonstrations.

"We are moving our country forward, we are trying to stabilise our region, we are working for peace and security. People should be protesting in support, not in opposition," he said.

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