The recent meeting between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will lead to major advances in cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Britain, the UK’s ambassador to the Kingdom, Simon Collis, said.
The envoy described the meeting during the Saudi heir’s landmark visit to the UK as “a first” and “a special moment” for both countries.
The crown prince and the leader of the Church of England discussed humanitarian issues and approaches to tackle extremism during their meeting at Lambeth Palace. They also viewed the Birmingham Qur’an manuscript, one of the earliest surviving records of the Qur’an, written in Hijazi, and believed to be at least 1,500 years old.
The meeting “created a very good basis for subsequent conversation,” Collis told a press conference in Riyadh. “I hope that will we see some follow-up to this.”
The ambassador commented on the shared commitment of peace, saying: “It is building on steps that have been taken. Our approach is to welcome, support and encourage these steps. It’s walking together down a path.”
During the visit, Britain signed a multibillion-pound preliminary order for Saudi Arabia to buy 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets, a deal that brought criticism from some human rights campaigners.
“The UK has strict guidelines in respect to the rules of war and humanitarian law,” Collis said. The UK welcomed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to ensuring that its military campaign in Yemen is conducted in accordance with international humanitarian law.
He said the crown prince’s visit had shown British people the extent of reform and modernization in Saudi Arabia.
“Saudi and the UK have been allies and friends for a long time. With Vision 2030, it has opened more new opportunities that will benefit both countries,” he said.
“It is a shared opportunity for both countries in different sectors, regarding investment and commerce. It’s good news and a positive thing, economically and socially. During this visit, the people of the UK had a better view of these things.
“What we are witnessing today are not promises but actions that will improve the country. The crown prince’s ambitions and vision for the Kingdom are highlighted in Vision 2030,” he said.
Collis described the changes taking place in the Kingdom as “historic.”
“People are going to talk about this. It’s wonderful and a real privilege to be a part of it,” he said.