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Fri 29 Mar 2019 12:19 PM

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Germany extends weapons embargo on Saudi Arabia

Halt to weapons deliveries will run until September 30 and no new contracts will be permitted during that time frame

Germany extends weapons embargo on Saudi Arabia
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Getty Images)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has extended a weapons embargo on Saudi Arabia for six months, resolving a dispute in the ruling coalition over European defence projects.

The halt to weapons deliveries will run until September 30 and no new contracts would be permitted during that time frame, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in an emailed statement late Thursday.

Exceptions would be made for joint export projects until the end of the year, pending talks with partner countries.

Germany will hold talks with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to ensure that delivered weapons aren’t used in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, according to the statement.

The decision continues the squeeze on Saudi Arabia past the end of the month, when the original ban was set to expire.

The Social Democrats, Merkel’s coalition partner, had pushed to maintain the embargo. “We have to keep up the pressure on Saudi Arabia,” especially with violence continuing in Yemen, Nils Schmid, the SPD’s policy expert on the foreign affairs committee of Germany’s lower house of parliament, said in an interview Thursday.

The ban on all weapons deliveries, including on projects already contracted involving companies like Airbus, has led to the disruption of defence exports across Europe, triggering complaints from the UK and France.

Merkel addressed the issue in a speech to Bundestag lawmakers last week, asking whether Germany’s pressure on Saudi Arabia should be allowed to harm allies.

“I would wish for a more fundamental debate about this, otherwise we appear morally arrogant,” Merkel said. “We look too attached to principles, or too incapable of compromise.”