Why did Britain roll out the red carpet for Saudi crown prince?

Saudi Crown Prince signs off U.K. visit with push for fighter jet deal

Saudi Arabia and UK sign deals worth more than $2 billlion

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most important combat aircraft in BAE Systems' portfolio, accounting for almost a third of the unit's sales in 2016.

BAe's chief executive Charles Woodburn said "We are committed to supporting the kingdom as it modernises the Saudi Armed Forces".

But during the three-day visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the British government made clear that its agenda was to promote commerce and good relations, not to criticize the Saudi government.

His visit also included talks with Prime Minister Theresa May and the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as an audience with the Queen, and saw agreement on an estimated £65 billion worth of additional trade in the coming years as part of the Crown Prince's Vision 2030 economic plan.

It was signed by the crown prince and the defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, after a meeting this morning, the last day of the trip.

But a deal reached in December for BAE to produce 24 Typhoons for Qatar was valued at nearly $7 billion.

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Ahead of his visit, the crown prince signalled the importance of the UK-Saudi Arabia relationship to security, saying both countries would be "much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia". Britain credits Saudi intelligence sharing with saving British lives and has licensed billions of pounds of weapons and ammunition sales to Saudi Arabia.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said the United Kingdom had already licensed £4.6bn of arms for Saudi Arabia since the Yemen conflict began in 2015.

May intends to use the private dinner at Chequers on Thursday, a 16th-century manor house 60km northwest of London, to bring up concerns over the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, her spokesman said.

Human rights and arms control groups have mounted a publicity campaign and protests to stop the sale of British arms to Saudi Arabia, alleging that they are used in Yemen to kill innocent civilians.

The Eurofighter Typhoon is the most advanced swing-role combat aircraft available and there are nearly 500 in service across Europe.

Some 5,000 people are employed by BAE Systems on the Typhoon programme, covering production and support.

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