Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Austria calls for EU-wide halt in arms sales to Saudi Arabia


The European Union should halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl told a German newspaper, saying such action could also help end “the terrible war in Yemen”.

The comments from Austria, current president of the EU, came after Germany said it would stop approving weapons exports to Saudi Arabia until Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is cleared up.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is also discussing how to deal with sales that have already been approved.

Referring to the wider EU, Kneissl told Die Welt newspaper: “The halt in arms deliveries proposed by Chancellor Merkel would be a correct signal.” Austria had already stopped sending military equipment to Saudi Arabia in March 2015, she added.

France and Britain – which will leave the EU in March — are major arms suppliers to Riyadh.

President Emmanuel Macron told King Salman on Wednesday that France, in coordination with partners, could take action against those held responsible for the murder.

However, since coming to power last year Macron has largely ignored protests over arms sales he deems vital to jobs and France’s strategic relationships in the region. French arms deals with Riyadh totalled 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) last year.

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