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Germany ready to assist Lithuania in tank deal

The German Defense Ministry has said it was willing to sell "Boxer" tanks to Lithuania. Media reports in the weekend suggested that Berlin had rejected the possibility.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert and the German Defense ministry rejected claims on Monday that Berlin had rejected any possibility of supplying wheeled Boxer tanks (pictured above) to Lithuania.

German representatives reacted to a report in the "Welt am Sonntag" newspaper over the weekend, which suggested that the German army had rejected any possibility of supplying Boxer tanks to Lithuania.

A spokesman of the German Defense Ministry said that Berlin was willing to assist Lithuania in buying Boxer tanks. "We are ready to do everything to support Lithuania with this deal," the spokesman said on Monday. However, the German army could not afford to lend any of its present tanks, the spokesman said.

Lithuania calls for bids

Deividas Matulionis, Lithuania's ambassador to Germany, confirmed that his government had advertised for bids: "The Lithuanian government has invited bids for acquiring more than 100 light wheeled tanks. A German company is participating in the bidding and a decision will be taken by the end of March."

German weapons producer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) confirmed its participation in the Lithuanian tenders, news agency Reuters reported.

Lithuania, a member of NATO, has borrowed weapons from Germany's Bundeswehr in the past. Berlin supplied about 300 Type M113 armored transport vehicles to Vilnius from the German army's stores some years ago.

Germany takes a conservative approach to exporting weapons, but supplies to NATO or EU member states are usually accepted without criticism.

mg/se (dpa, Reuters)

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