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Greetings Have Your Sayers — two topics today, for you to get your teeth into, both from the Middle East.
WHY IS THE UK BEING SO NICE TO SAUDI ARABIA ?
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been welcomed ceremonially to Britain by the Queen, with a state banquet at Buckingham Palace later today. The Liberal Democrats here, and a number of charities said the visit should not take place because of the kingdom’s poor human rights record. King Abdullah caused controversy by accusing Britain of not doing enough in the fight against terrorism. The king’s trip marks the first visit by a Saudi monarch in 20 years. His visit began on Tuesday when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh met him in Horse Guards Parade, where he reviewed a guard of honour before heading for the palace in carriages. WOOPS On Monday, the British Foreign Office minister Kim Howells called for Britain and Saudi Arabia to work more closely together, despite their differences. He said the two states could unite around their “shared values”. But the Foreign Office was later forced to rebut the king’s claims that Saudi authorities had provided information which could have averted the terrorist attacks here in London on July 7th 2005. So, our question today:
WHAT CAN THIS VISIT TO LONDON ACHIEVE ?
Can it lead to freedom and democracy in Saudi Arabia ? One e-mailer to the BBC has already said “Al Saud are our leaders, they are just, and they implement Sharia laws which we all accept as Moslems. The majority of Saudis love the Monarchs and we confer acceptance on each king upon his coronation” — so, is there any way this trip could dent the kings popularity at home ? Another e-mailer (this time from the UK) says “We accept them, but they cant accept us? Insane!”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ? Contact details down the bottom
Also today: EGYPT IS GOING NUCLEAR. President Hosni Mubarak has said Egypt is to build a number of nuclear power stations to generate electricity. Mr Mubarak said he had decided to go ahead with the programme because energy security was such an important factor in Egypt’s development. Egyptian officials announced plans last year to revive civilian nuclear activities but at the time they spoke of building a single power station. The United States said it would offer its co-operation in the project. But US officials insisted there were no comparison between peaceful use of nuclear technology by Egypt and Iran’s controversial nuclear programme. Is that fair ? Why does the West say it’s OK for some countries to go nuclear (India, now Egypt) but not others. Double standards ? Or a carefully assessment of risk versus need – Egypt needs power. Fact.
As ever the contact details
WORLDHAVEYOURSAY.COM TEXT: +44 77 86 20 60 80 PHONE: +44 20 70 83 72 72 Later, Peter
PS don’t forget a special show tommorow, live from Phoenix, Arizona in the US. Ros and half the WHYS team are setting up as we speak. We could tell you the talking points, but that would spoil the surprise. Or you might think that 24 hours before transmission we dont actually KNOW what the topic is going to be. No. It cant be. Wash your mouth out Dobbie. 1700 GMT, on a radio near you. Peter