BERLIN, April 13 A sale of several hundred
German battle tanks to Saudi Arabia is likely to be cancelled
because of opposition from Social Democrat Economy Minister
Sigmar Gabriel, a German newspaper reported on Sunday.
German media have reported interest by Saudi Arabia in
buying up to 800 Leopard 2 tanks from Germany. Such reports are
never confirmed because of the sensitivity of arms deals.
The newspaper said Saudi Arabia had tried for years to get
the tanks from German firms Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and
Rheinmetall and had some 18 billion euros ($25 billion)
available in its budget for the purchase.
"The government will not approve the disputed export," Bild
am Sonntag newspaper reported, citing government sources.
"Gabriel plays a key role in this, as he has positioned
himself against a tanks delivery to the autocratic royal house,
according to government sources."
Arms sales are a sensitive issue in Germany because of the
country's Nazi past and the role of arms makers in fuelling 19th
and 20th century wars.
Germany's national security council, which includes
conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and the ministers of
economy, defence, development and foreign affairs, has to
approve such deals but its decisions are not made public.
Gabriel has told media in the past he thought it was a
"shame" that Germany exported so many weapons.
(Reporting by Annika Breidthardt; editing by Andrew Roche)