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Germany extends ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia

March 6, 2019

Berlin will stick to a controversial ban on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia — at least a few more weeks. The order to keep German-made guns and tanks out of the kingdom has angered some of Germany's closest allies.

A boat sits in front of a closed door
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Büttner

Germany announced Wednesday it would extend a temporary ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia until the end of the month.

The ban, which Germany instituted following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, applies to countries involved in the Yemen war, and has led to both domestic and international tension, with Chancellor Angela Merkel's government facing pressure from the German arms industry and some EU neighbors angered over the export freeze.

The ban was originally set to last until March 9.

"We decided this [extension] with a view to developments in Yemen," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said following a meeting of Merkel's cabinet. "We believe that the Yemen war must end as soon as possible."

"Not only will there not be any permits issued until the end of this month, but products with permits already granted will also not be delivered," Maas added.

The minister said that the German government would evaluate the arms export situation with respect to developments in Yemen over the course of the month.

Around 10,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the war in Yemen since 2015, when Saudi Arabia launched a military intervention into the country's ongoing civil war.

Criticized both for arms export and ban

Germany, one of the world's top arms exporters, has frequently faced criticism for its foreign arms sales. Merkel's government has approved billions of euros of exports, including to nations accused of human rights abuses and or engaged in violent conflict.

More than half of all Germans disapprove of their country's arms sales, but France and the UK have criticized Germany's Saudi Arabia ban , arguing that it hinders joint defense projects. The two countries have called on Germany to lift the ban.

cmb/sms (dpa, AFP)

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