New Zealand PM meets Saudi Arabia king amid calls for tougher line on human rights

APRIL 28, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) Prime Minister John Key has met the Saudi Arabian king, amid Opposition calls for him to take a tougher line on the oil-rich kingdom’s human rights record.

Key is the first New Zealand prime minister to visit the rich kingdom. He met King Salman and was also likely to meet Crown Prince Muqrin.

It is also hoped he’ll have face time with extravagant Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Alsaud – the world’s second richest royal, worth a staggering US$21 billion. He owns a string of palaces and an Airbus A380 with its own concert hall.

Key is in the desert city Riyadh to get a free trade deal over the line. It stalled in 2009 over New Zealand’s ban on exporting live sheep for slaughter.

Security is also on the agenda. Saudi is a key ally of the West in the fight against Islamic State and is leading a Gulf States bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.