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UK and Saudi Arabia announce strategic partnership as minister praises ambitious reforms in the Kingdom

Minister of State for the Middle East at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Alistair Burt, told parliament that the UK has a close and wide-ranging relationship with Saudi Arabia. (Screengrab)
LONDON: The UK has a close and wide-ranging relationship with Saudi Arabia, a government minister responsible for the Middle East said.
Alistair Burt was speaking on Wednesday on behalf of British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who was attending a reception at Buckingham Palace to welcome Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“Saudi Arabia is the UK’s third-fastest growing market for exports and we continue to work together to address regional and international issues, including Yemen,” Burt told parliament.
During the visit, Prime Minister Theresa May and Mohammed bin Salman will launch an ambitious strategic partnership between the two countries, which will allow them to discuss a range of bilateral matters and foreign policy issues.
Burt said that the visit will allow for a substantive discussion on the need for a political resolution to the conflict in Yemen and ways to address the humanitarian crisis.
“The UK fully supports the Crown Prince’s social and economic reform program Vision 2030,” he said.
The minister said the visit is an opportunity to “underline his vision of an outward-looking Saudi Arabia, one that embraces a moderate and tolerant form of Islam and a more inclusive Saudi society that includes greater freedom for women in line with recent reforms made by the Crown Prince.”
“We believe these reforms are the best course for Saudi Arabia’s future security, stability and prosperity. The UK supports the Crown Prince in his Vision 2030 endeavours,” he said.
Burt said Britain will continue to make the case for the partial public listing of Saudi oil firm Aramco to be conducted in London.
“We would like the Aramco share option to be issued in the United Kingdom and we will continue to suggest the City would be the best place for it,” Burt said.