Germany approves arms sale to Saudi after Yemen war ban promise

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany approved a delivery of weapons to Saudi Arabia, a government document showed on Wednesday, after saying it would halt arms sales to countries involved in the war in Yemen.

The government signed off on the consignment of four artillery positioning systems, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier wrote in a letter to lawmakers seen by Reuters. The vehicle-mounted systems can locate enemy fire, enabling accurate counter-strikes.

The weapons delivery is the first documented one to Riyadh since March, when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition agreed to the Yemen-related ban.

A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen’s war in 2015 to restore the country’s internationally-recognized government, ousted by the rebel Houthi group.

Germany is one of the world’s five biggest arms exporters, according to the SIPRI research group, but weapons sales are a sensitive issue there due to the country’s World War Two history.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold and Joseph Nasr; Writing by Michael Nienaber; editing by John Stonestreet