Saudi crown prince and UK eye billion-dollar deals

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The Prince of Wales with Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Salman before they had dinner at Clarence House, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 7, 2018.

They also have a long-standing trade relationship — not just of arms, the most well-known U.K. export to Saudi — but also of transport-related equipment, medicinal products, foodstuffs and power-generating equipment, according to the Saudi British Joint Business Council.

The prime minister praised Saudi’s “ambitious reform program” and offered the U.K.’s support “to progress and intensify these reforms, particularly on women’s rights, and on universal human rights,” the Downing Street statement said.

The latest trade initiative, the Strategic Partnership Council, envisages “new investment and procurement opportunities” that will be spread across a range of sectors including education (the U.K. is going to help Saudi reform its education system), training and skills, financial and investment services.

In addition, the spokesperson said there will be opportunities in the sectors of “culture and entertainment, health care services and life sciences, technology and renewable energy and the defence industry.”

The latter, the defense industry, is one of the most controversial aspects of the U.K.’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.