Saudi Arabia looking to buy German armored vehicles: report
BERLIN (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia wants to buy several hundred armored fighting vehicles from Germany, a news magazine reported on Sunday, adding Angela Merkel had considered the request with the Federal Security Committee but deferred a decision to next year.
Spiegel magazine said the Saudis want BOXER military vehicles, which can be adapted for different mission types, and are made by Artec, a joint-venture of Rheinmetall Defence (RHMG.DE) and Krauss-Maffei Wegman.
The committee, which includes Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the defense, development, economic and foreign ministers as well as German military representatives meets under strict secrecy. The government never comments on discussions.
Spiegel suggested the vehicles could be used in fighting possible demonstrations. According to media reports Germany gave pre-approval for the export of 270 Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi Arabia in 2011.
Arms exports are a sensitive issue in Germany given its Nazi past as well as the role arms makers such as Krupp played in feeding 19th and 20th century wars with exports to both sides of conflicts.
Germany has refrained from exporting heavy weapons to Gulf states in the past because of its relationship with Israel and more recently because of the Arab Spring revolts.
However according to a government report, Berlin approved the export of 5.4 billion euros ($7.02 billion) worth of arms in 2011, after studying requests from different countries, a 14 percent increase from the previous year. Of those arms, 42 percent went to countries outside of the European Union or NATO.
Spiegel also reported that the Federal Security Council last week approved the export of shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons and bunker breaking weapons made by Dynamit Nobel Defence to Israel, which could be used in fighting Hamas in Gaza.
German officials declined to comment and Israeli officials could not be immediately be reached.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Louise Heavens)
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