‘We want to fight terrorism’: Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman says on eve of UK visit 


'We want to fight terrorism': Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman says on eve of UK visit Saudi Arabia will help keep Britain safe with extensive sharing of intelligence on terrorists, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has told The Telegraph. In an exclusive interview ahead of his visit to Britain this week, the heir to the Saudi throne who now in effect runs the country on a day-to-day basis, said he believes close cooperation between Riyadh and the UK’s intelligence agencies will help prevent further jihadist attacks. “We want to fight terrorism and we want to fight extremism because we need to build stability in the Middle East,” he said. “The British and Saudi people, along with the rest of the world, will be much safer if you have a strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.” Speaking at his residence just outside the capital, Crown Prince Mohammed said his ambition to promote a more moderate Islamic outlook in his own country could also play a prominent role in defeating Islamist-inspired extremism. Saudi interview The crown prince is due to have private meetings with the heads of MI5 and MI6, as well as being invited to attend a meeting of the National Security Council, a rare honour for a visiting foreign dignitary. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, last week highlighted the importance of defence cooperation between the two countries to counter Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants and as a diplomatic counterweight to Iran's Middle East influence. “The extremists and the terrorists are linked through spreading their agenda,” Crown Prince Mohammed said ahead of his tour to Britain, France and the United States. “We need to work together to promote moderate Islam.” Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed el-Tayeb, Egyptian Imam of al-Azhar Mosque receives Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in Cairo Credit: Egyptian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS Announcing a raft of reforms last year, the crown prince acknowledged that the ultra-conservative kingdom had been “not normal”, blaming strict religious doctrines that have governed society for decades. The 32-year-old royal has overseen the most dramatic overhaul in the country’s modern history, as he attempts to both placate Saudi’s increasingly disaffected young population and lure international investors as oil prices continue to drop. Profile | Mohammad bin Salman He has received praise for his liberalisation of women’s rights. Abroad, he has escalated a war of words with Saudi’s regional rival Iran and led a blockade of Qatar over the country’s alleged support of terrorism. Saudi Arabia is also involved in a conflict in Yemen with Iranian backed rebels. He acknowledged in his interview with the Daily Telegraph that Saudi has not had “the best human rights record in the world”, but said it has been getting better and “we have come a long way in a short time.” His three-day stay in the UK, where he is to met Prime Minister Theresa May, is set to be one of the most sensitive diplomatic visits this year. Mrs May is expected to raise concerns over the humanitarian situation in Yemen. But ministers are hoping to woo the Saudi royal who will also travel to America this week, hoping to convince the crown prince to choose London for Riyadh’s planned stock market flotation of Aramco, the state oil group valued as high as £1.4 trillion. Both the UK and the US are keen to secure the listing. “After Brexit there will be huge opportunities for Britain as a result of Vision 2030,” the crown prince said of his blueprint to turn Saudi Arabia into a market-based economy less dependent on oil. “The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Britain is historic and goes back to the foundation of the kingdom,” he said. “We have a common interest that goes back to the earliest days of the relationship.”

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