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Theresa May discusses Yemen war with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister

Saudi Arabia is leading a coalition in support of Yemen’s government against Iran-backed rebels in a conflict which has killed thousands.

Theresa May has stressed the need to end Yemen’s civil war and the importance of complying with international law in a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, following criticism of Britain’s role in selling arms to the Arab kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition in support of Yemen’s internationally recognised government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in a conflict which has killed thousands.

More than £3.3 billion worth of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been licensed since the bombing began in March 2015.

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People inspect houses destroyed by Saudi-led air strikes in Sanaa, Yemen (Hani Mohammed/AP)

The High Court last month ruled that the UK can carry on selling arms to Saudi Arabia, despite allegations they are being used to commit “war crimes” in Yemen.

The Government was criticised by Labour last month after highlighting UK efforts to help to deal with the cholera outbreak in Yemen, which has affected hundreds of thousands of people, while continuing to arm the Saudis.

The Prime Minister discussed the issue with Adel al-Jubeir at a short Downing Street meeting on Monday.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “They discussed Yemen, the need to bring the conflict to an end, and the continued importance of demonstrating compliance with international humanitarian law.”

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Saudi Arabia has been leading a coalition in support of Yemen’s internationally recognised government (Hani Mohammed/AP)

The meeting also touched on a number of other issues, including the PM’s hopes that Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman would be able to visit Britain soon.

The spokesman said: “They discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues, including the ongoing isolation of Qatar in the Gulf region, with the Prime Minister reiterating her call for all sides to take steps to de-escalate the situation and restore Gulf Co-operation Council unity at the earliest opportunity. They also discussed Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ programme for reform and modernisation.

“The Prime Minister noted its focus on transformation, innovation and empowerment and said that the UK looked forward to continuing to work closely with Saudi Arabia on this ambitious project. She hoped that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman would be able to visit the UK in the near future to build on the historic partnership between the two countries.”

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