British PM in the UAE to secure arms deal

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British Prime Minister David Cameron addressing a students’ gathering in Abu Dhabi.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is in the United Arab Emirates to kickoff a three-day trade visit to the Middle East aimed at securing major UK arms deals with Gulf Arab states.

The Downing Street issued a statement in which it said the aim of the trip is to build a “reinvigorated partnership” with Middle Eastern leaders and to secure new military deals worth billions of pounds.

The Conservative leader is in Abu Dhabi to persuade the UAE to buy 60 of BAE’s Typhoon jets in a deal that could be worth more than $4.81bn. He is scheduled to fly to a military airbase near Dubai, where a RAF Typhoon squadron is positioned, to promote the aircraft to military and political figures from the UAE.

Cameron will also hold talks with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the prime minister of the UAE and convince them to work jointly on the next generation of military aerospace equipment.

The Tory leader will head to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, the UK’s biggest trading partner in the region, in a bid to convince Saudi leadership to consider adding the British fighter planes to its fleet of aircraft.

London expects to secure deals to sell 100 Typhoon jets to the oil-rich Gulf states over the next few year in deals estimated to be worth around $9.58bn.

“We want to work together with the Gulf countries towards a future that is rich in prosperity, strong in defence and open in its handling and pursuit of political and economic reform,” a Downing Street statement said ahead of the visit.

Britain is taking an aggressive stance to sign new weapons deals in the region following a failed merger attempt between BAE and EADS, which was blocked by the German government.

The UAE royal air force wants to replace its ageing fleet of F-16s and Mirages with latest warplanes. The Typhoon is up against the Rafale, made by the French company Dassault.

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