UK prime minister plans to meet with Saudi crown prince to discuss trade, defense cooperation

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s prime minister said Thursday that he planned to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the “earliest opportunity,’’ after a U.K. newspaper reported that officials from both countries hoped to schedule a meeting between the two leaders before the end of the year in London.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office said he spoke with the Saudi leader on Thursday to discuss developing trade and investment links between the two countries and strengthening cooperation on defense and security.

“The prime minister and crown prince said they would continue working closely together to progress U.K.-Saudi cooperation and looked forward to meeting in person at the earliest opportunity,” Sunak’s office said in a statement.

A meeting in the United Kingdom would be the crown prince’s first visit to the country since dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in 2018 in Istanbul, which U.S. intelligence agencies say was ordered by Prince Mohammed. The slaying drew condemnation from countries around the world, including Britain.

The Times of London, citing unidentified sources in the British government, reported Thursday that authorities were working to schedule a meeting before the end of the year, though it said no date had been set.

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