Saudi King's Visit Sparks Controversy

A visit by to the UK by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah is causing controversy.

King Abdullah is due to arrive in the UK on Monday afternoon and his visit is due to begin formally on Tuesday. This is the first time that as Saudi monarch has visited Britain for 20 years.

However, speaking to the BBC in an interview ahead of his visit, King Abdullah accused Britain of not doing enough to fight international terrorism and accused the UK of failing to act on information provided by the Saudis, which he said could have prevented the London bombings in July 2005: a claim that has since been strenuously denied by Downing Street.

However, Foreign Office minister Kim Howells has called on both Britain and Saudi Arabia to work more closely in spite of their differences, during a speech at the 'Two Kingdoms' conference.

In a further development, a demonstration is understood to be planned to take place outside the Saudi embassy in London later this week in protest at the country's record on human rights.

Vince Cable, acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, also announced that he will boycott the visit.

Mr Cable's reasons included the country's human rights record, as well as alleged corruption in the Al Yamamah arms contract, signed with Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.

Last year, former Prime Minister Tony Blair stopped an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into the deal.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has also pulled out of a meeting with the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, because he and his wife have adopted a second son from the United States.

It has been reported that Prince Saud also pulled out of the meeting because of Mr Miliband's decision.


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