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Al-Jubeir's visit changes committee's report on UK-Saudi arms sales

A UK government committee's reports which recommended halting arms sales to Saudi Arabia was watered down following a visit by the Gulf country's foreign minister.

In their original report the committee wrote: "The weight of evidence is now so great that the UK should suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen until an independent and international inquiry can establish the truth."

The BBC's Newsnight reported that there was a concerted effort to water down the report by two prominent members of parliament who had previous ties to the British arms industry.

Reporter Gabriel Gatehouse described the "anatomy of a whitewash" while commenting on the "turmoil at the heart of the establishment"

Controversy intensified following a meeting between the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and British MP's, which has raised further questions about the process by which the draft was amended.

In the summary of the original draft the committee wrote: "There have been very serious evidence of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, including the targeting of civilian areas and medical facilities, and the use of cluster bombs".

Two senior MPs, Crispin Blunt, who is the chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee and Labour MP John Speller wanted the phrase "very serious evidence" removed and replaced with just "allegations".

There were also numerous places in the report where the amended draft appeared to soften the language.

In the final recommendations of the first draft, the committee wanted suspension of arms sale to Saudi Arabia "until the independent UN-led investigation has come to its conclusions".

This recommendation was dramatically changed in the second draft, which merely proposed a legal case that will be taken to a high court next year. Others wanted this removed altogether.

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Europe & RussiaMiddle EastNewsSaudi ArabiaUK
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