Germany announced a freeze in arms sales approvals to Saudi Arabia and urged its fellow European Union members to do the same over Riyadh’s admittance that its security team killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Economy and Energy Minister Peter Altmaier told ZDF television that the German government would not approve any new arms sales to Saudi Arabia and would urge other EU member states to follow this example.
“I believe that it is important to adopt a common European stance,” Altmaier stressed. “Because only if all European states are united, it would make an influence on the government in Riyadh,” he added.
He emphasized that Riyadh’s explanations so far on the killing of journalist Khashoggi were insufficient, and the international community wanted to know the whole truth about what happened to him.
After claiming for weeks that Khashoggi left is consulate in Istanbul, Riyadh admitted on Saturday that a security team that had come to ‘persuade’ the dissident journalist to ‘return’, killed him during ‘fisticuffs’ and that his body was ‘wrapped in a rug’ to be disposed.
France, Germany and the UK have issued a joint statement doubting Riyadh’s version of the events admidst leaks from Turish investigators that Khashoggi was murdered in cold blood and that his body was dismembered by a forensic specialist sent as part of the Saudi ‘hit team.’
Germany and Spain have in the past called for a stoppage of arms sales to Riyadh over what its bombings of civilian targets in Yemen but have not followed through on their threats in the face of large defence orders from Saudi Arabia which is the world’s biggest arms importer.
Saudi Arabia bought nearly €150 million worth defence hardware from Germany in 2017 in the form of four patrol boats and 110 military trucks. In comparison, Spain secured a € 2 billion deal to sell warships to Riyadh that year.