Cameron Puts Off Plans for Saudi Visit After Executions (excerpt)
(Source: Financial Times; published January 4, 2016)
By John McDermott in London and Simeon Kerr in Dubai
British Prime Minister David Cameron has canceled an official visit to Saudi Arabia to lobby for an extension of the Eurofighter acquisition contract; British media fear this will significantly delay its signature. (BAE photo)
After coming under pressure to review Britain’s links with Riyadh, David Cameron has put off plans to visit Saudi Arabia that were part of a diplomatic effort to seal defence contracts worth billions of pounds.
The prime minister had been expected to visit Saudi Arabia either before the end of 2015 or early this year. However, UK criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record has strained relations, while Saudi Arabia’s execution of a dissident Shia cleric has made chances of a visit recede further.
A senior Downing Street official said Mr Cameron had no current plans to visit the kingdom, but stressed this was because he was focusing instead on renegotiating the UK’s terms of membership of the EU before the forthcoming referendum.
At particular risk is a proposed extension to the Al-Salam contract for Typhoon fighters, worth an estimated several billion dollars. Industry executives say the Saudi military is keen to secure the new aircraft but that the deal is hostage to the prevailing political environment. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the FT website.
Saudi Arabia Was Omitted from UK's Death Penalty Strategy 'to Safeguard Defence Contracts' (excerpt)
(Source: The Independent; published Jan 05, 2016)
By Oliver Wright
The British Government left Saudi Arabia off a list of thirty countries to be challenged by diplomats over their continued use of the death penalty - despite executing over 90 people a year.
The Kingdom is the only major death penalty state to be omitted from a 20-page Foreign Office document setting out the UK’s five-year strategy to reduce the use of executions around the world.
Among the countries given a greater priority were Barbados Singapore and Jordan that between them passed less than ten death sentences in 2014.
Human rights groups and opposition politicians have expressed concern that ministers left the notoriously sensitive Saudi regime off the list to safeguard billions of pounds of defence contracts and security co-operation.
The Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the time had come to “shine a light” into the “shady corners” of the UK relationship with the Saudi regime.
The Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood would only express the UK’s “disappointment” at the 47 executions carried out by Saudi Arabia at the end of last week. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on The Independent website.