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David Cameron arrives in the Gulf for defence talks

Published: November 5, 2012 | 7:30 am
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David Cameron has arrived in the Gulf to strengthen Britain’s defence, security and commercial ties in the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions.

Mr Cameron and the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond landed in Dubai and will later go on to Saudi Arabia.
Britain is looking to sell Typhoon jets to both countries, despite recent allegations about human rights abuses.
Discussions are also under way to develop an airbase near Dubai into a strategic base for the UK military.
Mr Cameron is hoping to increase defence co-operation with the UAE, including contingency plans for the possible basing of RAF warplanes if conflict erupts with Iran, says BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.

Strained relations
It is Mr Cameron’s second visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia as prime minister.
No 10 says the UK is looking to sell around 100 Typhoon jets to the UAE and Saudi Arabia as well as building closer defence and security ties.
A number of RAF Typhoons are already in the UAE for a joint training session.

The BBC’s security correspondent said Mr Cameron’s visit came amid signs of strained relations with Gulf states.

Our correspondent says his Arab hosts, while publicly welcoming the prime minister, have their own issues they want to address with him.

They have told the BBC that in the wake of the Arab Spring they worry Britain risks confusing democracy and human rights movements with revolutionaries who, they say, want to replace the current monarchies with Islamic republics.

Gulf Arab officials have hinted that Britain risks losing out on major contracts in future, but human rights groups want the British government to put more pressure on Gulf rulers to speed up democratic reforms.

Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been criticised for alleged abuses but they have rejected these criticisms.

They have warned that if Britain continues to support calls for reform prompted by anti-government activists they will increasingly give lucrative deals to Asian partners instead.

The prime minister is expected to push for the UAE to buy 60 of BAE’s Typhoon jets in a deal worth £3bn, which would secure thousands of jobs in the UK.

The UAE air force is shopping around for new planes to replace its ageing fleet of F-16s and Mirages and the Typhoon is up against the Rafale, made by the French company Dassault.


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