Large arms exhibition opens as protesters gather

One of the world's largest arms exhibitions opened today for governments looking to buy counterterrorism equipment or defense technology. Protesters meanwhile criticize Britain for hosting the show.

Everything from war ships to surveillance equipment is on sale at the show, which takes place every two years and draws companies and representatives from dozens of countries, including some that have been flagged for alleged human rights abuses.

The international arms industry is worth about 1 trillion U.S. dollars per year.

More than 300 companies have wares on display and some 60 countries have been invited to the Defence Systems & Equipment International show.

"Much of the exhibits this year relate to counterterrorism technology or equipment used in homeland security," said Paul Beaver, one of the show's organizers.

"Selling weapons to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Israel only stands to fuel international terrorism," said Mike Lewis with the London-based Campaign Against Arms Trade, which plans to protest outside the show. "Britain, even though it has suffered two terrorist attacks recently, is sanctioning these sales by hosting this show."

The Defence Services Export Organisation, which falls under the defense ministry, said countries must meet certain criteria to be invited to the show, the AP reports.

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