UK PM Cameron visits Gulf, Typhoon jet sales high on agenda

Sun Nov 4, 2012 8:15pm EST
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By Mohammed Abbas

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit the Gulf and Middle East on a three-day diplomacy and trade trip this week, his office said on Monday, adding that selling BAE Systems-built fighter jets would be high on the agenda.

Cameron will visit the United Arab Emirates on Monday, and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday before travelling to another destination in the Middle East, in a trip his office said "was to help Britain compete and thrive in the global race".

The trip is part of a push to improve overseas demand for British goods and services to help drag Britain's economy into a period of sustained growth after the global financial crisis.

In the UAE, Cameron will showcase the Typhoon fighter jet to Emirati ministers, and both Cameron's office and BAE officials have said the Emiratis have shown an interest in placing an order for up to 60 of the aircraft.

He will also discuss with UAE officials how to develop a "strategic air defense relationship", including potential collaboration on military aerospace equipment.

Cameron's office said Saudi Arabia has also signaled that they are interested in placing a second "substantial" order of Typhoon jets, on top of the 72 jets they have already acquired.

Europe's biggest defense contractor, BAE signed a deal for the 72 aircraft in 2007, 24 of which have been delivered. Payment terms for the remaining 48 have yet to be finalized and BAE says profit growth this year hinges on the outcome.

Like other defense firms, BAE faces tough times as governments reduce defense spending due to economic weakness.   Continued...

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron stands outside Number 10 Downing Street in London November 1, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett