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Controversial exports in German arms report: newspaper

Qatar and Saudi Arabia received controversial German arms exports worth several billion euros last year, according to a major Sunday newspaper. Germany's military sales as a whole nearly doubled compared with 2014.

According to the "Welt am Sonntag" (WamS) newspaper, a 180-page Economy Ministry report to be submitted to the cabinet on Wednesday itemized 7.8 billion euros ($8.7 billion) in German arms exports.

Broken down, those sales comprised 12,687 individual approvals given by the ministry under export rules.

That was almost double the 4 billion euros in German arms exported in 2014 and somewhat more than a 7.5 billion-euro estimate given in February.

Qatar, a Gulf Arab state panned by German opposition parties as an alleged source of funding for the "Islamic State" (IS) terror militia, received combat tanks and heavy artillery, as well as ammunition and accompanying vehicles worth 1.6 billion euros.

Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who heads the Social Democrats, had tried to stop the delivery to Qatar but was outvoted by other ministers on Germany's Federal Security Council.

Deutschland Bundeswirtschaftsminister Sigmar Gabriel

Gabriel reportedly tried to stop sale to Qatar

Disclosure prompts outcry

That deal had already been cleared in 2013 by Chancellor Angela Merkel's previous coalition, which then comprised her conservatives and the pro-business liberal Free Democrats (FDP).

Disclosure in February of that sale prompted renewed outcries from church-based lobby groups and charities such as Pax Christi and Misereor.

Germany's sales to Saudi Arabia, which such groups also criticized, was to a large extent funneled through joint delivery programs run with other nations, especially France, according to the report cited by WamS.

Last October, an interim ministry report - for the first half of 2015 - said arms exports to Saudi Arabia spanned 66 approvals worth 179 million euros in total.

WamS reported that the Economy Ministry had attributed the sharp overall overall increase in German arms exports last year to special factors such as the 1.1 billion-euro sale to Britain of four aerial refueling aircraft assembled back in 2008.

The export to Britain was not problematic, the ministry argued, because it represented a "strengthening" of European defense policy and was in Germany's own security interests.

ipj/tj (epd, KNA, dpa)

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