Germany signals military sales to Saudi on hold


BERLIN • Germany signalled it’s suspending exports of military equipment to Saudi Arabia pending investigations into the death of government critic Jamal Khashoggi.

“As long as there’s a continuing investigation, as long as we don’t know what happened, I believe there is no basis for positive decisions on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (picture) said in an interview with broadcaster ARD.

His comments go beyond Chancellor Angela Merkel’s initial reaction to Saudi Arabia’s account that the journalist was killed during an altercation at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. The events “still haven’t been cleared up and of course we demand that they be cleared up”, she said on Saturday.

Social Democratic Party head Andrea Nahles called for a comprehensive review of German-Saudi relations, according to an interview with Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

Nahles and Maas are members of the party, which is a junior partner in Merkel’s government.

Asked whether Siemens AG CEO Joe Kaeser should skip this week’s Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, Maas said it’s a company decision.

“We have a great deal of understanding for those who have cancelled their participation,” he added.

German arms exports are subject to government approval, including Cabinet review. Saudi Arabia ranked sixth last year with approved sales of €254 million (RM1.21 billion), mostly reflecting deliveries of patrol boats.