Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gives a speech during the 32nd Arab League Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in May. File Photo by Saudi Foreign Ministry/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, was invited by the British government on Thursday to visit, reports said.
The visit by the crown prince, known by his initials MBS, would be his first since the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018.
MBS is the de facto ruler of the largest exporter of oil in the world and, thus, largely has escaped repercussions for his alleged role in ordering the assassination of Khashoggi, a charge believed by the U.S. intelligence community and the United Nations. The Saudi ruler has denied he ordered the killing.
The possible visit was reported by the BBC, citing the embassy of Saudi Arabia in London, and Sky News -- citing unnamed British officials. The two governments are expecting the visit to happen in the first half of October.
The news of the possible visit came after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke to MBS earlier Thursday. In a statement, Sunak's office said the prime minister looks forward "to meeting in person at the earliest opportunity."
"He welcomed the opportunity to speak to the Crown Prince and looked forward to personally deepening the long-standing ties between the UK and Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom continues to go through a period of profound social and economic transformation under Vision 2030," 10 Downing, the office and residency of the prime minister, said.
"The leaders discussed their commitment to further develop our trade and investment relationship, including by collaborating in new cutting-edge industries, and to strengthen our close cooperation on defense and security."
Sunak is also said to have assured Saudi Arabia of Britain's "long-standing commitment" to support the country's security and regional stability.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry in its readout of the call said that the crown prince affirmed Saudi Arabia's "keenness to exert efforts to contribute to achieving peace and stability and push for a political solution to the Ukrainian-Russian crisis."
In June, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with MBS in Jeddah, where the leaders agreed to work together in a renewed effort to fight terrorism in the Middle East. Blinken allegedly put pressure on MBS for more progress on human rights.
Britain, as well as the United States and Saudi Arabia, have each sought a plan of action for stability in Yemen, discussed during both meetings.