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German arms exports rose by almost a quarter in 2013

German arms exports rose by almost a quarter last year to over 5.8 billion euros in sales. The approval of the weapons exports, however, mostly took place during the previous administration.

Individual export licenses for weapons, tanks and other military goods totaled over 5.8 billion euros ($7.8 billion) in 2013, according to an arms export report revealed Wednesday in the German parliament. This represents an increase of 24 percent compared with the year before.

The increase was attributed, in part, to approvals for exports to countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which critics accuse of human rights violations and undemocratic conditions.

However, the approval of these exports was, for the most part, the responsibility of the former government made up of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and the now-sidelined Free Democrats (FDP). Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, whose Social Democrats (SPD) now share power with Merkel's CDU,

has promised to take a more cautious approach

to licensing arms exports than the previous center-right government.

Earlier this month, in response to criticism over the lack of transparency on the deals, the government agreed to inform parliament members within days about export approvals and to release interim reports on developments in this area.

Germany was the world's third largest arms exporter after the United States and Russia but a

steady increase in business

has edged it into the number two spot.

hc/rc (Reuters, dpa)

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