Saudi Arabia, UK come 'even closer' with defence cooperation plan

Saudi Arabia, UK come 'even closer' with defence cooperation plan
The UK and Saudi Arabia already have a long and well-established defence partnership.
2 min read
16 December, 2022
Ben Wallace, the UK's defence secretary, said the deal brings Britain 'even closer' to Saudi Arabia [SAMUEL CORUM/AFP/Getty-archive]

Saudi Arabia and the UK signed a defence cooperation plan this week, which will bring the two allies "even closer", according to London.

The signing came as UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace met his Saudi counterpart, Prince Khalid bin Salman, in London on Tuesday.

This was despite Saudi Arabia's widespread human rights violations, including its role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018 and abuses perpetrated by the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen.

"The defence ministers reflected on the strength of the historic UK-Saudi defence partnership of over half a century, based on a shared commitment to peace, stability, and the strengthening of mutual and regional security," the UK government press release said.

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Wallace said: "It is a pleasure to sign this Plan for Defence Cooperation, bringing us even closer to one of our most-important partners.

"It is a key milestone between our two nations, as we look to enhance our defence partnership further in support of mutual and regional security."

Wallace and Prince Khalid welcomed the agreement, saying it would bolster defence and security cooperation between the two countries, address shared security challenges, and enhance capability-building.

"It reaffirms the UK's enduring commitment to working with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on promoting regional security and stability," the release added.

The UK has been a key arms supplier of Saudi Arabia, which has come under criticism due to the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen.

The UK government has licensed around £7.1 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the offensive began in March 2015, although pressure group Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) believes the real figure is closer to £23 billion.