Pompeo says precision-guided missiles, as in Yemen, cut risks to civilians

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo smiles as he testifies at a hearing of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that foreign sales of precision-guided missiles to nations such as Saudi Arabia, which has been criticized for killing civilians during its campaign in Yemen, can help to reduce civilian deaths.

“It is this administration’s judgment that providing precision-guided munitions actually decreases the risk,” he told a congressional hearing.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that the Trump administration has asked Congress to review the sale of more than 120,000 precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Plans to sell the laser-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia has raised concerns from some members of Congress over American weapons being used in the Saudi-led campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen and the deaths of thousands of civilians there since March 2015.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Trott