Theresa May meets Saudi King at EU-Arab League summit

Saudi King Salman, 83, keeps tyrant Crown Prince son sidelined as the senior royal steps out of semi-retirement to meet Theresa May and other world leaders in a bid to repair his nation’s reputation after the Khashoggi murder scandal

  • Prime Minister Theresa May met King Salman in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt today
  • Mrs May said she would use opportunity to raise issue of civil war in Yemen
  • The PM also pledged £200 million in humanitarian aid and end to conflict
  • Crown Prince absent with reputation damaged following death of journalist 

Prime Minister Theresa May met with Saudi Arabia’s King today at an EU summit – with the under-fire Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines following the fall-out from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Mrs May sat down with King Salman at the EU-League of Arab States summit in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt and prior to the meeting said she would call on him to use his influence to encourage Yemeni parties towards peace as the brutal civil war rages on.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was absent from the summit, with his reputation severely damaged following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi government has always denied he had anything to do with the murder of Khashoggi, a royal insider-turned-critic.

Prime Minister Theresa May and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud attending the EU-League of Arab States Summit in Sharm El-Sheikh

It comes after Princess Rima bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s first woman ambassador was hired to boost the kingdom’s battered international reputation following the murder of Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.

At the summit the Prime Minister also pledged £200 million in humanitarian aid for Yemen as the UK called for an end to the Middle East nation’s brutal civil war.

Mrs May said: ‘I can announce today that the UK will pledge £200 million in new funding to provide immediate and lifesaving humanitarian aid for millions of people in Yemen who are living without access to food or clean water.

‘We are playing our part, and will continue to do so – but there is still more that we as an international community can do.

‘At the summit in Egypt I will call on our partners in Europe and in the region to continue to provide the aid that is so desperately needed and to maintain their vital support for the peace process.’

The Prime Minister urged a political settlement to end the war in Yemen and praised recent talks in Stockholm.

At the summit the Prime Minister also pledged £200 million in humanitarian aid for Yemen as the UK called for an end to the Middle East nation’s brutal civil war

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Mrs May Said: ‘The situation in Yemen cannot go on.

‘There must be a political settlement – that is the only way to end this crisis and the suffering it has caused.

‘Real progress has been made to reach a political solution – but the window of opportunity is closing. We must use the momentum of the landmark Stockholm talks to turn the current agreements into a lasting peace.

‘My message in Sharm el-Sheikh is clear: let us now redouble our efforts to build on the progress made and get the Stockholm agreements implemented in full.

‘Pressure must be brought to bear on all those involved in the conflict. Forces from all sides need to start moving out of Hodeidah and follow through on plans for the exchange of prisoners.

‘The ceasefire must be respected with parties exercising restraint. The Houthis must abide by their commitments.

‘This is essential so progress can be made at the next round of peace talks and so humanitarian supply lines can be opened up.

‘The UK has given its full backing to the United Nations-led peace process, and I want to continue to build international support for the tireless and vital work of the UN special envoy.

‘I will also use this summit to reiterate to King Salman the importance of Saudi Arabia continuing to use their influence to encourage the Yemeni parties towards peace, as they did so pivotally in Stockholm. And I will underline the UK’s ongoing commitment to the security of Saudi Arabia and the region.

‘The UK – along with our European partners – also continues to call on Iran to support efforts to de-escalate the conflict and ensure the current ceasefire holds.’

The PM also plans to use the two day EU-Arab summit to speak to other leaders ahead of an international conference on growth and opportunities in Jordan being held in London on Thursday.

Mrs May said: ‘Jordan is a longstanding friend and partner for the UK and a beacon of stability in the Middle East, playing a vital role in hosting refugees who have fled conflict in the region.’  

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