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UK monitoring Saudi weapons use 'extremely attentively'

Comments by UK envoy to UN come as the world body blacklists Saudi-led military coalition for killing children in Yemen.

UK ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft

The United Kingdom is keeping a close eye on the final use of weapons it sells to Saudi Arabia, according to a top diplomat.

Matthew Rycroft, the UK's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, told reporters on Tuesday that the country has measures in place to ensure weapons are used correctly.

"The UK has extremely stringent measures in place to ensure that the end use of any and all weapons that the UK sells are appropriate, said Rycroft.

"We monitor that in relation to Saudi Arabia extremely attentively."

The comments come after a UN report placed the Saudi Arabia-led military coalition on a blacklist of children's rights violators for their actions in Yemen.

UN figures released on October 5 stated that the alliance was responsible for causing death and injury to 683 children in 2016, including in attacks on schools and hospitals.

Speaking on Tuesday, Rycroft said he "commend the UN for engaging with Saudi Arabia in relation to the conflict in Yemen".

Riyadh rejected the report, describing the report's figures as "inaccurate and misleading".

Opposition at home

In July, the high court in London ruled in a high-profile court case that the UK could continue to export weapons to Saudi Arabia, despite claims by campaigners that the arms were resulting in human rights abuses.

Sales of weapons by the UK government to Saudi Arabia have been criticised by MPs and NGOs since the conflict in Yemen began in 2015.

Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has repeatedly urged the government to suspend the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

In an interview in July, Corbyn said: "We have constantly condemned the use of these weapons by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and called for the suspension of the arms sales to Saudi Arabia to show that we are wanting a peace process in Yemen, not an invasion by Saudi Arabia."

Saudi Arabia is the UK's biggest weapon's client, purchasing $4bn worth of weapons from the country over the last two years.

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