British Prime Minister David Cameron began a visit to the Gulf on Monday by holding talks with United Arab Emirates Vice-President Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The two discussed “ways of strengthening ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries,” the national news agency reported.

On Tuesday, Mr. Cameron travels to Saudi Arabia for talks expected to focus on boosting defence and trade links.

Mr. Cameron has said he will not shy away from raising human rights concerns with his hosts as he seeks to sell Typhoon fighter jets to the Gulf state.

“On human rights, there are no no-go areas in this relationship.

We discuss all of these things but we also show respect and friendship to a very old ally and partner,” Mr. Cameron said at the start of his visit.

“We have one of the strictest regimes anywhere in the world for sales of defence equipment, but we do believe that countries have a right to self-defence and we do believe that Britain has important defence industries that employ over 300,000 people,” Cameron added.

The visit, Mr. Cameron’s second to the region, comes as Gulf leaders are reportedly angered by criticism of their countries’ human rights records in the British media.

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