May defends UK ties with Saudi Arabia

Indo Asian News Service

London, April 4 (IANS) British Prime Minister Theresa May has defended her trip to Saudi Arabia, saying its ties with the UK are important for security and prosperity, a media report said on Tuesday.

The Premier is facing questions about the UK's support for the Saudi-led coalition which is fighting rebels in Yemen, the BBC reported.

Speaking to the media as she travelled to Jordan, which she is visiting before travelling to Saudi Arabia, May said humanitarian aid was one of the issues she would be discussing on her trip.

"We are concerned about the humanitarian situation -- that's why the UK last year was the fourth largest donor to the Yemen in terms of humanitarian aid ($128 million). We will be continuing with that," she told the BBC.

"And yes, we will be raising the humanitarian issue. We believe it is important that we recognise the threat that there is in terms of people's lives."

May said she would also be raising human rights issues with the Saudi Arabian officials, adding that "if we have the relationship we are able to do that".

She also defended the drive to strike new trade links, saying the UK had "long-term and historic relationships" with Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said UK-made weapons were contributing to a "humanitarian catastrophe" and called for the immediate suspension of Britain's arms exports to Saudi Arabia, the BBC reported.

"The Saudi-led coalition bombing in Yemen, backed by the British government, has left thousands dead, 21 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and three million refugees uprooted from their homes," he said.

"Yemen urgently needs a ceasefire, a political settlement, and food aid, not more bombing," Corbyn added.

--IANS

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