October 26, 2018 / 2:05 PM / a month ago

Macron slams calls to halt arms sales to Saudi as populist

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference with Slovakia's Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini at Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia October 26, 2018. REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday dismissed as “demagoguery” the calls by several European countries including Germany to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

“What’s the link between arms sales and Mr Khashoggi’s murder? I understand the connection with what’s happening in Yemen, but there is no link with Mister Khashoggi,” Macron told a news conference in Slovakia.

“That’s pure demagoguery to say ‘we must stop arms sales’. It’s got nothing to do with Mr Khashoggi,” he added.

Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl told a German newspaper the European Union should halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia following the killing of Khashoggi, saying it could also help end “the terrible war in Yemen”.

The comments from Austria, the current president of the EU, came after Germany said it would stop approving weapons exports to Saudi Arabia until Khashoggi’s death at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is cleared up.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Luke Baker

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