German arms exports to Saudi Arabia approved: reports
Berlin, Sep 30: Germany's coalition government has approved new arms export deals to Saudi Arabia, German media reported on Thursday.
The reports emerged after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar.
Berlin had imposed a ban on weapons exports to Riyadh over its involvement in the war in Yemen, as well as accusations of murdering the dissident US-Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
New export licenses
Robert Habeck, Germany's economy minister and vice chancellor, confirmed in a letter to the Bundestag that several deals on arms exports had been approved by Scholz before his trip to the region, Der Spiegel and the dpa news agency reported.
The export licenses are part of a joint program with Italy, Spain and Britain, according to the letter.
Riyadh will be able to purchase equipment and ammunition for Eurofighter and Tornado jets worth €36 million ($35.2 million), according to Der Spiegel.
The European cooperation project will also supply spare parts for the Airbus A330 MRTT worth €2.8 million, dpa reported.
Banned in 2018
German weapons sales to Saudi Arabia peaked at €1.24 billion in 2012.
But in 2018, Germany's ruling bloc of the conservative CDU/CSU and the Social Democrats (SPD) agreed to ban arms exports to countries involved in the Yemen war.
However, their agreement had holes, as several exceptions allowed some exports of German military materials to the Gulf state.
A complete ban came into effect a year later after Khashoggi's murder. The ban was extended twice since then.
The ban was in line with Berlin's stance of not exporting weapons to active conflict zones.
However, this stance has shifted this year as Germany came under pressure to provide Ukraine with weapons amid Russia's invasion.
Riyadh has led an alliance in Yemen fighting the Iran-backed Houthi rebels alongside the government since 2014, creating what the UN has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
But hopes that the conflict could soon come to an end have risen as a UN-brokered cease-fire took effect in April and has since been renewed twice.
Berlin is also looking to improve its ties with energy exporters as it cuts its reliance on Russian gas amid the war in Ukraine. Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most important energy exporters.
Germany is one of the world's top arms producers and exporters, with sales increasing 21% from 2016 to 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Its largest customers were South Korea, Algeria, and Egypt.