Saudi leader King Abdullah stepped into a storm of controversy when he arrived for a state visit in the United Kingdom, hours after accusing Britain of not doing enough to fight international terrorism. In an interview, King Abdullah claimed Britain failed to act on intelligence from the Saudis which could have averted the London bombings of 2005. But a spokesman for the British government said no specific warnings were received.
This is the first visit by a Saudi monarch in 20 years, and it has prompted protests from critics of Riyadh’s record on human rights. Acting Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable is boycotting the visit:
“I think it’s absolutely wrong for the British government to have been extending the accolade, the approval of an official royal visit to the head of a regime which is brutal, which has got an appalling record of human rights, is undemocratic and is very deeply corrupt”.
There were demonstrations outside the Saudi embassy in London. A spokesman for the British foreign ministry said Britain regularly talked to Saudi Arabia about human rights matters but added that there were no specific issues expected to dominate the visit over the next two days.