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Prince Andrew delays Saudi trip

March 12, 2011 at 2:54 PM

LONDON, March 12 (UPI) -- Prince Andrew, under fire for his ties to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, has delayed a trip to Saudi Arabia in his role as British trade ambassador.

Officials said the trip was scrubbed because of unrest in the Middle East, The Guardian reported. Andrew, the Duke of York, had been scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia next week to boost British sales of defense equipment.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, U.K. Trade and Investment and the palace have agreed to postpone the visit given the current circumstances in the region," a statement from Buckingham Palace said.

Andrew has recently come under fire because of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, a U.S. financier who pleaded guilty to solicitation of prostitution. Human-rights groups have criticized his ties to Gadhafi and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

Stephen Day, a former head of the Foreign Office's Middle East section, called Thursday for Andrew's removal as a trade envoy. He said allowing him to represent the country gives foreign governments the impression Britain hopes to build ties with "dodgy fixers and politicians."

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