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Charles holds talks with Saudi king on 'significant' visit

Prince Charles and the new king of Saudi Arabia have held informal talks today in a visit that some have argued could have a "significant" impact on UK-Saudi relations.

The Prince of Wales with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (right) today. Credit: Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales and King Salman spoke privately via an interpreter before a lavish meal in Riyadh - though it is not known whether Charles heeded calls to raise the plight of jailed blogger Raif Bawadi.

Amnesty International UK urged the future king to use his influence and intervene on behalf of Badawi - who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes after setting up a website for Saudi liberals and being accused of insulting Islam.

Charles knows the Saudi monarchy well and was among a number of world leaders who traveled to the country to pay respects after the death of Salman's predecessor King Abdullah.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Simon Collis, Britain's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the conversations between the pair could be significant, though he could not say "whether or not" Charles would raise the plight of Mr Badawi.

Britain bidding to share prison expertise with Saudi Arabia

An MP accused the government of trying to share a "best practice of how to behead" with Saudi Arabia after the Justice Secretary defended the Government's attempt to sell expertise to the country's prison service.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan slammed the MoJ bid for the £5.9 million contract.

Sadiq Khan slammed the MoJ bid for the £5.9 million contract. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Peter Byrne/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling defended the move, saying the Government has always tried to encourage "improvements" and "best practice" in countries around the world.

The pair clashed after reports that the MoJ's commercial arm, Just Solutions international, is hoping to sell its expertise to Saudi Arabia's prison service.

Prince Charles and PM pay respects to Saudi King

Prince Charles has flown to Saudi Arabia to pay his condolences. Credit: Saudi State TV

The Prince of Wales and David Cameron have arrived in Saudi Arabia to pay their respects following the death of King Abdullah.

The Prime Minister is meeting the new King Salman and other members of the royal family during his visit to Riyadh, with other world leaders including French president Francois Hollande also travelling to the country.

The US delegation is led by vice president Joe Biden, but Barack Obama will cut short a visit to India to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

ITV News correspondent Richard Morgan reports:

Louise Mensch curses Queen over Saudi ruler tributes

Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch expressed her frustration over the glowing eulogies given to former Saudi ruler King Abdullah with some very colourful language.

Writing on Twitter, she responded to the UK embassy with a succinct "F*** YOU". When told the decision to put flags at half mast came from Buckingham Palace, and therefore the Queen, she responded "F*** HER".

Louise Mensch expressed her frustration using a number of expletives against the government and the Queen. Credit: Twitter.


Obama to travel to Saudi Arabia to meet new King Salman

President Barack Obama will cut short his trip to India this week to travel to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to meet with new King Salman and to pay respects after the death of King Abdullah, the White House said.

Obama is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Sunday where he will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attend the Republic Day parade.

Row over lowering flag for death of Saudi King Abdullah

The lowering of flags on public buildings as a mark of respect after the death of the Saudi King Abdullah has been condemned as "nonsense" by the leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson.

Downing Street, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace were among landmarks to put Union Flags at half mast after a request from government officials.

They said it was a matter of protocol and that the formal request had been made by the Palace. But the move caused disquiet because of the human rights record of the country during King Abdullah's reign.

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Major: 'King Abdullah will be remembered as a peacemaker'

Sir John Major says King Abdullah will be remembered as a peacemaker. Credit: PA

Former prime minister Sir John Major has said Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah will be remembered as a "peacemaker and reformer".

King Abdullah will be remembered as a peacemaker and reformer, whose moderate views sought both to stabilise the Middle East, and soften the most conservative opinion in Saudi Arabia.

He was a good friend of Britain and a wise man whose voice will be missed far beyond his own country.

– Sir John Major
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