Saudi crown prince’s visit to UK sparks protests in London

World Today

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (CR) and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May (CL) pose for a photograph with other members of the British government and Saudi ministers and delegates at number 10 Downing Street in central London, on March 7, 2018. ( AFP PHOTO / Dan Kitwood)

There were crowds of protesters and supporters of the royal visit on Downing Street, being separated by police.

They gathered as Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held the first of two meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May and her senior ministers.

CGTN’s Catherine Drew reports.

The red carpet rolled out Wednesday, as the prince had lunch with Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. During his three-day visit, the heir to the Saudi throne will meet other senior royals and dine with the Queen’s son and grandson, Prince Charles and Prince William.

The U.K. is hoping this visit will strengthen economic ties ahead of Brexit, as the prince begins to oversee the opening up of the economy in Saudi Arabia.

Protests in London were a reminder to the world that Saudi Arabia is leading a multinational coalition. It’s battling the rebel Houthi movement in Yemen, and is backed by the U.S. and U.K.

The U.N. said Saudi Arabia was at the center of the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. Anti-war groups want to highlight the billions of dollars of military hardware the U.K. has sold to Saudi Arabia since the war in Yemen began.

Prime Minister May said she would be raising the issue of the crisis in Yemen, but defended the U.K.’s close relationship with the Saudis. May said their close security cooperation had saved British lives.

The prince is due to hold another round of talks with the prime minister at her official country residence of Chequers on Thursday.