Srinagar: British officials held meetings with Saudi government and military personnel in the weeks immediately after Riyadh critic Jamal Khashoggi’s murder with an aim to boost arms exports, the UK-based Mirror Onlline reported.
The report says a high-powered delegation from the Defence and Security Organisation, whose prime job is to promote arms exports, was in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 2, the day Khashoggi was murdered.
Despite international outcry over the journalist’s murder and the UK condemning it “in the strongest possible terms,” the British delegation returned for two more meetings which took place on October 14 and 22, the report said.
Those present at the meetings included the DSO’s Interim Head of Mission in the Middle East and retired Air Vice Marshal Nigel Maddox, a military advisor.
Citing documents, the Mirror says talks on October 14 were on “Riyadh Operations Centre requirements” or ROC which is thought to be a reference to the control headquarters for Riyadh’s strikes on Yemen.
The reports says the UK has licensed more than 4.7billion pounds worth of arms to Saudi Arabia since the Yemen conflict began in 2015.
Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and writer for the Washington Post, entered the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2 and was never seen again, prompting an international outcry over his disappearance.
He was killed and dismembered inside the consulate. His body is yet to be located.
Saudi officials have offered a range of explanations for the killing. But they deny that the royal family and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman were involved, although the US CIA has reached the conclusion that the crown prince likely ordered the hit.
Saudi Arabia has arrested several persons in connection with the killing but is refusing to extradite them to Turkey for trial in Istanbul.