Liz Truss defends ties with Saudi Arabia
Independent

Liz Truss has defended the UK pursuing closer ties with Saudi Arabia despite the country's human rights record.

Speaking to Sky News' Kay Burley, the foreign secretary said she was not "condoning" the country's policies but said it was necessary to "work with them" so the UK is no longer "dependent" on Russia for oil and gas as the war in Ukraine continues.

She said: "We have to work with all of our allies around the world including Saudi Arabia to find alternative sources.

"Saudi Arabia is not a global security threat in the way that Russia is and we have to work with them.

When Burley interrupted to say "their abuse of women is terrible, disgusting" Truss added:

"I am not condoning the policies of Saudi Arabia, what I am saying is we are in an existential threat and we need to find alternative sources of oil and gas so we are no longer dependent on Vladimir Putin and his appalling regime.

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It comes as Johnson visits Saudi Arabia today for talks. Groups including the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) have criticised the decision to reach out to the country, not least because last weekend, Saudi Arabia carried out a mass execution of 81 men in one day, and its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been implicated in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Johnson has said he will raise human rights issues with the regime during his visit but Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said "going cap in hand from dictator to dictator is not an energy strategy".

Truss also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that while she was “not condoning every action” by the Saudi government, the UK needed to be prepared to work with countries “we don’t necessarily agree with”.

She later added: “We do not need to work with countries we don’t agree with — this a serious threat to the global order.

“It’s an incredibly serious threat to European security and we cannot afford to simply rule out countries because we don’t like a particular policy”.

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