The UK and Saudi Arabia are to deepen military ties following the signing of a new defence co-operation plan earlier this week. Riyadh's Defence Minister Prince Khalid Bin Salman, who is the younger brother of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salam met with UK Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, in London to agree details of the plan.
The agreement will seek to develop localised production and strengthen the defence partnership between the two countries, officials are reported saying.
"It is a pleasure to sign this Plan for Defence Cooperation, bringing us even closer to one of our most important partners," said Wallace. "It is a key milestone between our two nations, as we look to enhance our defence partnership further in support of mutual and regional security."
In a statement, the British Ministry of Defence said that the cooperation plan "will enhance bilateral defence and security cooperation to address shared security challenges, including through regular dialogue and consultation, education and training, and capability-building."
Read: UK paid $74m in alleged bribes to Saudi to secure lucrative arms deal
In a tweet about his visit to the UK, Bin Salman revealed that he had visited the headquarters of BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire. "It was a pleasure to tour BAE Systems in Warton, UK, during my visit and view the company's future plans and strategies, their program for future combat air system as well as their modern air systems design and development site," said Saudi Arabia's defence minister.
It was a pleasure to tour BAE Systems in Warton, UK, during my visit and view the company's future plans and strategies, their program for future combat air system as well as their modern air systems design and development site. pic.twitter.com/7qR4CW4lLY
— Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان (@kbsalsaud) December 14, 2022
Bin Salman also stressed "the commitment" of the Saudi Crown who is also the kingdom's prime minister "to modernize the capabilities of the Ministry of Defense in accordance with the highest levels, and to ensure the implementation of the localization programs, in line with the Kingdom's 2030 vision."
The meeting comes a week after President Xi of China arrived in Riyadh in what was described as an "epoch-making" visit. Beijing hailed the trip as the biggest diplomatic initiative in the Arab world, as Riyadh sought to expand global alliances beyond long-standing ties with the West.
Earlier in the year Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said that he does not rule out arms purchases from China underlining Riyadh's growing options if the West tries to apply pressure on the kingdom.
READ: Pompeo: Saudi-China rapprochement is the result of 'bad US policy'