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Tue, 14 July 2020

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Jeremy Hunt defends UK-Saudi ties after children killed in Yemen bus blast

Jeremy Hunt defends UK-Saudi ties after children killed in Yemen bus blast

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Jeremy Hunt has defended UK ties with Saudi Arabia after a bomb dropped on a school bus in Yemen killed dozens of children.

The Foreign Secretary said links with Riyadh helps “keep the streets of Britain safe” as the Kingdom passes crucial intelligence to British spies.

Ministers have come in for increased criticism over the British relationship with Saudi Arabia - which includes billions of pounds in arms sales - amid the rising civilian death toll in Yemen.

Tens of thousands are said to have died through violence or famine in the conflict - which started between two political factions in 2015 before the Saudi-led coalition stepped in.

The bus attack on 9 August killed 40 boys aged six to 11 who were returning from a school trip, as well as 11 adults.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn blasted the attack, saying UK support for the conflict must end.

But asked about UK ties with Riyadh during a visit to Washington yesterday, Mr Hunt said: “Saudi Arabia is a close military ally and they help us keep the streets of Britain safe and so that relationship is very important to us.

“It doesn't mean we don't raise concerns about what happened with the Saudi foreign minister Al-Jubeir, as I did last week.”

He added: “We look at that humanitarian situation with a huge amount of concern.

“It's impossible to see the reports of what happened in that bus in Yemen without being very concerned about what is happening.”

Mr Corbyn said in the wake of the bus attack: “These children were slaughtered travelling back to school after a picnic.

“It is the latest atrocity in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, armed and backed by the UK government.

“UK support for this conflict, and the humanitarian crisis it's unleashed, must end.”

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