FRANKFURT, July 12 U.S. defence firm General
Dynamics is in talks to deliver battle tanks to Saudi
Arabia, beating out German rival Krauss-Maffei Wegmann for the
lucrative deal, a German newspaper reported.
Handelsblatt daily cited industry sources as saying on
Friday that a deal for Saudi Arabia to buy M1 Abrams tanks from
General Dynamics was already in sight.
General Dynamics and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann were not
immediately available for comment.
There has been speculation for months that Saudi Arabia
could order more than 200 Leopard 2 tanks from Krauss-Maffei
Wegmann, though the company has never confirmed such reports.
According to other unconfirmed media reports, Germany gave
pre-approval for the export of 270 Leopard 2 tanks to Saudi
Arabia in 2011.
Defence sources in Germany have said that the German
government wanted to hold off making a decision until after
federal elections in September, and Handelsblatt speculated on
Friday that Saudi Arabia was no longer willing to wait.
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
Peer Steinbrueck, a leader of the opposition Social
Democrats running against German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the
election, has criticised her government for letting arms exports
After World War Two, successive West German and later united
German governments placed tight restrictions on arms exports,
especially to regions where there were armed conflicts or where
human rights were poorly respected.