John Key receives official welcome in capital of Saudi Arabia

John Key receives official welcome in capital of Saudi Arabia

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has received an official state welcome in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Mr Key is the first New Zealand Prime Minister to visit the oil-rich Kingdom and will hold talks with the Saudi ruler, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

As well as pushing New Zealand's case for a free trade deal, Mr Key has said he will discuss human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, including beheadings and restrictions on women.

An on-going bombing campaign involving Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states against Houthi rebels in Yemen will also be discussed during Mr Key's one day stop in Saudi Arabia.

John Key's Middle East visit shifts from trade to war

The Prime Minister earlier met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan who commands the United Arab Emirates' defence force, currently one of a group of Gulf States that's bombing Iranian backed rebels in Yemen.

Mr Key says the Crown Prince wants to see a legitimate government in Yemen restored as that's the will of the people there.

However, the bombing has led to civilian causalities in Yemen and there is a real fear of a new humanitarian crisis there.

New Zealand, now a member of the UN Security Council, won't endorse the airstrikes, neither will it condemn them.

Mr Key says he can understand the actions that Saudi Arabia and others are taking but ultimately there needs to be long term solution and you can't do that through fire power.

The war in Yemen is a tangled web of alliances that also involves ISIS.

The big fear though is that it descends into a wider sectarian war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and that puts the entire region's economic stability at risk.

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