During a three-day visit to strengthen UK ties to the Middle East, Prime Minister Theresa May visited the royal palace in Saudi Arabia to meet with King Salman and hold talks on a wide range of subjects.
At the top of the agenda was security and business. A spokesperson for Downing Street said that: ‘The Prime Minister and King Salman held talks on a wide range of subjects, including security and strengthening ties between businesses in Saudi Arabia and the UK. The Prime Minister pointed out that security relationships between the 2 countries had saved many lives in the UK.’
Ahead of her trip the Prime Minister made it clear that Saudi Arabia is a close and important ally and for that reason it is in the best interest of the UK to continue to work closely with the country, especially when it comes to counter-terrorism. As such, the meeting also saw the two discuss the humanitarian situation in Yemen and what could be done to address this by working together.
As Saudi Arabia is the UK’s largest trading partner in the Middle East, Prime Minster May also took the opportunity to explore ways of boosting these ties.
During the meeting the Prime Minister was awarded the Order of King Abdulaziz, which is the Saudi Arabian Order of Merit and was established in 1971 by King Faisal. Previous heads of state and government who have been granted the honour include President Obama of the United States of America, Prime Minister Abe of Japan and Prime Minister Modi of India.
While in Saudi Arabia Prime Minister May also met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayyaf, Minister of the Interior, to discuss security threats such as extremist material on the internet and the return of foreign fighters to Syria.
An additional meeting with the Saudi Minister of Energy, Khalid al Falih, saw the PM discuss potential opportunities to work together on energy policy and investment opportunities on the London Stock exchange for small and medium businesses.