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U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron met the heads of three of the United Arab Emirates’ largest sovereign wealth funds today, seeking investment for British projects including wind farms.
“Emirati investment in the U.K. across a range of sectors -- including real estate, banking, sport and infrastructure --is vital to our economy back in Britain,” Cameron said in an interview with The National, an Abu Dhabi-based newspaper. “So we will continue to do all we can to make the U.K. an attractive and accessible investment destination.”
The prime minister’s office said before the meeting that he was due to see Masdar, Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. Masdar has invested in the London Array offshore wind farm, which began powering British homes last month. Abu Dhabi National Energy Co. (TAQA) has invested in the U.K.’s North Sea oil fields.
With energy prices for Britons rising, and the country emerging from recession, foreign investment offers Cameron the possibility of economic stimulus and lower fuel bills. He moves on to Saudi Arabia later today, where he’ll meet King Abdullah to discuss issues including Iran, Syria and terrorism.
Britain is aiming for 15 percent of its energy to come from clean sources such as solar and wind by 2020, compared with 9.4 percent currently. There are divisions between the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners over the pace of expansion for land-based wind turbines.
Cameron discussed yesterday the possible sale of Typhoon jets. In an interview today, he defended selling weapons while also talking to students about the importance of democracy and human rights.
“It is my job to get good deals for Britain, which means jobs in the U.K., investment in the U.K. but at the same time not compromising on our strong views about human rights which we raise with all of these countries,” Cameron told reporters. “
“I came here to the United Arab Emirates wanting the strongest possible long-term defense partnership between our two countries and that’s exactly what we’ve agreed with Typhoon, and that is a very good outcome for both our countries and for jobs in the U.K.,” he said.
The U.A.E. and Britain plan to establish a defense and industrial partnership involving close cooperation around Typhoons, the countries said in a joint communique today. The defense alliance would mean a collaboration on a “number of new technologies.”
Cameron wants to arrange the sale of more than 100 planes to the region in the coming year in deals that would be worth more than 6 billion pounds ($9.5 billion) to British companies.
Cameron’s office said Saudi Arabia had signaled it is interested in placing a second “substantial” order of Typhoon jets, on top of the 72 jets the country has already. The U.A.E. has shown interest in ordering as many as 60 jets. The Typhoon is built by Eurofighter GmbH, made up of BAE Systems Plc, Finmeccanica SpA and European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co.
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