David Cameron, the British prime minister, has strongly defended the presence of arms companies accompanying his visit to the Middle East this week.
In an exclusive interview jointly held between Al Jazeera English and YouTube, Cameron was asked about the alleged use of Western-manufactured weapons against civilians in the recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya.
Cameron defended his tour party, citing democracy in Kuwait.
He said: “One of the countries I went to, and one of the countries we have sold defence equipment in the past – and probably will in the future – is Kuwait, a country that actually does have a level of democracy and also a country that was invaded by its neighbour Saddam Hussein.
“So I don’t accept this argument that it is wrong in all circumstances to support the sale of defence equipment.
“Britain, unlike many other countries, has tough controls on this and as for whether there is evidence about whether this equipment has been used [on civilians], I haven’t seen that evidence.”
Al Jazeera is currently banned in Kuwait after covering a police crackdown on an opposition gathering, an order which was criticised by Human Rights Watch.
Cameron compared the recent uprisings in the Middle East to the fall of Eastern European dictators in 1989.
Answering a question on what experience changed the way he viewed the world, he answered: “The experience that made me think a lot politically was the fall of the Berlin Wall. I think that year, that incredible year of 1989, was a tremendous year.
“So many people felt that change wasn’t possible, and it proved a more bright democratic future was possible. And there are some echoes with what is happening in the world today.”
Cameron also had stern words for Iran. When asked why Iran should face tough action on nuclear weapons transparency, but not Israel, he responded by appearing to ignore the occupation of Palestinian territories.
“There is a special case here with Iran, a country that is trying to get a nuclear weapon and is saying it believes in wiping another country off the map,” Cameron said.
“I can’t think of another country that has made that statement. That’s why it is a very special case.”