Germany has agreed to soften its position on exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia while continuing to block deliveries of Eurofighter combat jets.
This move is likely to irk the U.K., which hoped to hand over 48 jets of the type to Saudi Arabia, a contract for which was awarded to BAE Systems five years ago. The country’s air force already operates 72 Eurofighters.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz confirmed Berlin’s position on arms sales to Riyadh during NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Wednesday. “There will be no decision on the delivery of Eurofighter jets to Saudi Arabia any time soon,” he told reporters.
Weapons export to Saudi Arabia were blocked by Germany following the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s Istanbul in 2018, taking a far tougher approach than major allies such as the U.S., France and Britain.
Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Yemen war had also been cited as the reason behind the blockade. Pressure from business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) has been mounting to reconsider the stance after Saudi reached a ceasefire with Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen last year.