Cameron seeks arms deals, says supports Arab Spring

Mon Nov 5, 2012 3:26pm GMT

By Mohammed Abbas

DUBAI (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron sought to balance concern over human rights in Gulf Arab states with winning lucrative arms deals for Britain as he started a tour of the region on Monday.

Cameron said supported calls for greater democracy in the Middle East and that the British government was engaging Gulf states - some of which are trying to stifle political unrest - on their human rights record.

But discussions would show "respect and friendship," he said, recognising that governments have bridled at foreign criticism.

Cameron arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Monday and will visit Saudi Arabia on Tuesday before travelling to another destination in the Middle East.

High on his agenda will be selling the BAE Systems-built Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet.

BAE officials say the Emirates has shown interest in ordering up to 60 Typhoons. He will also talk to UAE officials about how to develop a "strategic air defence relationship", including collaboration on military aerospace equipment.

Saudi Arabia has also signalled it might place a second substantial order of Typhoons on top of the 72 jets it has already acquired, Cameron's office said.

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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) meets with United Arab Emirates' Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan (R) during his visit to Dubai November 5, 2012. REUTERS/WAM/Handout
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