Cameron seeks arms deals with Arab world
November 6, 2012 9:04 by Reuters
Later in Dubai, he said of his visit to Saudi Arabia: “On human rights, there are no no-go areas in this relationship. We discuss all of these things but we also show respect and friendship to a very old ally and partner.”
He also said it was legitimate to promote British business the purpose of his trip was “to help Britain compete and thrive in the global race”.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who was with Cameron as he showed off the Typhoon at an airfield, said commercial links had not been impacted by politics.
Asked about the prospects of Britain winning the possible order for the aircraft, he said: “I think these things are complicated, they take time of course.”
Gargash also said the West should be wary of supporting opposition groups born out of the Arab Spring protests.
“Many people are still caught in the euphoria of the Arab Spring, but in reality what we’re seeing currently in the Arab Spring is basically an entrenchment of conservative religious parties. They’re taking control,” Gargash said.
Gulf rulers are wary of parties linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which won power in Egypt after last year’s popular uprising. Western governments also fear the Arab Spring could usher in hardline Islamist rule in the place of authoritarian but pro-Western governments.
The United Arab Emirates has been criticised for its response to the Arab Spring.
The European Parliament last month expressed “great concern about assaults, repression and intimidation” against rights activists. Human Rights Watch says the UAE’s record has “worsened significantly” in recent months.
Gargash said criticism of the UAE was often exaggerated and inaccurate, and while not perfect, the Emirates has a “forward looking, secular, and open” agenda.
A major oil exporter and regional business hub, the UAE arrested about 60 local Islamists in recent months, accusing them of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and conspiring to overthrow the government.
Britain has historic ties with Gulf Arab states, many of them former British protectorates.
Areas of mutual interest include opposition to Iran, counter-terrorism, and securing oil supplies. The Foreign Office says British exports to the region are worth 17 billion pounds ($27.44 billion), on a par with China and India combined.
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