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Jeremy Hunt faces grilling over UK-Saudi weapons love-fest in wake of Khashoggi murder Open in fullscreen

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Jeremy Hunt faces grilling over UK-Saudi weapons love-fest in wake of Khashoggi murder

Hunt will be quizzed on Wednesday [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 October, 2018

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Senior British ministers will be cross-examined in the Commons this week over Britain’s relations with Saudi Arabia, amid increasing outcry over the killing of Khashoggi.
The UK's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt and Middle East minister Alistair Burt are expected to face intense pressure for the country's continued support of the Saudi-led coalition waging war in Yemen amid an increasing outcry over the kingdom's involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The ministers will be cross-examined in the Commons this week over Britain's relations with Saudi Arabia, which has for several weeks faced intense criticism for its suspected role in the premeditated killing of Kashoggi.

Burt will face the international development select committee on Tuesday, while Hunt will be questioned for the first time by the foreign affairs select committee on Wednesday.

It comes as reports reveal British intelligence services may have known of Riyadh's plans to kill the Saudi dissident, who Turkish investigators say was murdered and decapitated by a Saudi hit squad inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate. 

The UK's foreign office has remained steadfast in its support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which has largely contributed to the death of more than 10,000 civilians since intervening in March 2015. But reports in the British press suggest there are signs that senior Conservative MPs have lost patience with the long-time ally.

Reports this week also claimed Khashoggi may have been murdered over a report he was preparing on the use of chemical weapons in Riyadh's devastating military campaign in Yemen.

A close friend of Khashoggi told British daily the Sunday Express on Monday that Khashoggi was gathering evidence for the damning report a week before he was killed by Saudi agents in Istanbul.

"I met him a week before his death. He was unhappy and he was worried," said the Middle Eastern academic, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"When I asked him why he was worried, he didn't really want to reply, but eventually he told me he was getting proof that Saudi Arabia had used chemical weapons. He said he hoped he would be getting documentary evidence."

"All I can tell you is that the next thing I heard, he was missing," the source added.

Khashoggi had been critical of the Saudi-led intervention in neighbouring Yemen that has left almost 10,000 people dead since 2015, and sparked what the UN has labelled the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"The longer this cruel war lasts in Yemen, the more permanent the damage will be… the crown prince must bring an end to the violence," Khashoggi wrote in a Washington Post article in September.

Reports have emerged that the Saudi-led coalition has used US-supplied white phosphorous munitions in the war.

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