Saudi King's State Visit to Britain Faces Protests and Boycotts

[Guardian-UK] Ian Black - The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, will be the guest of the Queen during a visit that will include a ceremonial welcome, two banquets and meetings with Britain's political leaders. But Vince Cable, the acting Liberal Democrat leader, announced that he would boycott the visit because of the Saudi record on human rights, including its maltreatment of British citizens. Saudi Arabia is Britain's biggest trading partner in the Middle East and the UK is its second biggest foreign investor. The Serious Fraud Office was forced by Tony Blair's government to drop - on alleged national security grounds - an investigation into alleged corruption tied to BAE arms sales to Saudi Arabia, in which Prince Bandar bin Sultan, now the king's national security adviser, reportedly received secret payments of £1b. Saudi Arabia last month agreed to buy 72 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter planes from the UK at a cost of £4.43b - the biggest export order yet for the aircraft.

2007-10-29 01:00:00

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