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UK-Saudi Arabia development partnership

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An editorial published by the Guardian yesterday (Monday 12 March) and a news story last week focussed on a partnership between Saudi Arabia and DFID to work in developing countries.

It came after the visit to London last week by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The article points out that DFID’s new partnership with the Saudi Fund for Development will pool expertise to boost infrastructure and economic development in the poorest countries.

However, critics say that it will ‘whitewash’ the reputation of Saudi Arabia.

The UK is a critical friend of Saudi Arabia and our strong relationship means we are able to raise difficult issues more effectively.

The International Development Secretary showed this in December when she visited Riyadh and pressed successfully to improve access to Yemeni ports.

Shortly afterwards, access was restored and food and fuel were shipped into the country again.

The partnership with the Saudi Fund for Development signed during the Crown Prince’s visit last week will see a commitment of £50 million in East Africa by each country, with the UK’s contribution to be delivered through DFID’s existing programmes in the region.

Speaking about the new partnership on Wednesday 7 March, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: “We are sharing the best of British expertise, and our collective efforts will help create jobs and livelihoods to support the poorest people to stand on their own two feet. This in turn will help to boost global prosperity, which is in all our interests.”

Separately, the International Development Secretary will continue to monitor access of all commercial and humanitarian supplies through the Red Sea ports of Hodeidah and Salif as well as tracking progress on access requests she made when she visited Riyadh in December and reiterated when she met the Crown Prince last week.

Saudi Arabia last week reaffirmed its commitment to provide $930 million to the 2018 UN Humanitarian Appeal for Yemen, in partnership with the United Arab Emirates, helping to provide life-saving food, water and medical supplies to reach the 22 million Yemenis in need. The UK looks forward to the disbursal of this funding over the coming month.

Crown Prince also confirmed the importance of a political solution to the crisis and showed strong support for the new UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths.

He has also agreed to work with the UK and international partners to agree on a mechanism for paying public sector salaries across Yemen, which is vital to keep schools, health centres and water systems working, as well as to put money in the pockets of 7 million Yemenis so they can buy food.

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